Everything in its Place

Better service truck ergonomics help your drivers become more efficient route runners and stay safer and healthier

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As a driver, I wondered how service trucks were designed. It seemed difficult to perform various tasks. As a company owner, I still drive and two other guys work for me. Why does it seem that some of the components are placed in the wrong places? At times, not only is the job made more difficult but it also becomes physically damaging. The day is going to come when I have to replace one of these trucks, and I don’t want another truck that I have to battle with in order to make it work. A user-friendly truck is what I want.

Hank Jepson

Pontiac, Mich.



You’re talking about ergonomics. When you purchase a new service truck, you should insist on helping in the design of the vacuum system. In a perfect world, you and the truck builder — working together — should develop a design that works best for you.

The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics as “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. Ergonomics is employed to fulfill the two goals of health and productivity. It is relevant in the design of such things as safe furniture and easy-to-use interfaces to machines.”

When it comes to ergonomics, truck owners have some fundamental concerns. The first is to make sure the driver isn’t getting injured while doing his job. Let’s look at some of the common equipment placement concerns I hear about:

• Hose racks that are hung too high on the truck. Hoses can be heavy. In some cases, the technician must toss the hose up and over the hose rack. Shoulders get injured over time and it’s off to the doctor. The answer for this is a lower hose rack.

• When gauges, such as pressure and vacuum relief, are needed to be seen and tested, they should be visually and physically accessible without requiring the driver to climb up on the truck. Anytime someone has to climb on the tank or the truck, the risk of injury rises.

• When climbing is required, is there a simple step and a grab handle available to make the climb safe and easy?

• What about inside the cab? Are switches and knobs easy to reach without becoming a distraction? So much is made today of people talking and texting on their cell phones. Are the controls to your truck easily accessible without putting the driver in jeopardy?

• Is the driver provided with Bluetooth technology so he or she can communicate hands-free with the office when calls are necessary? Drivers need to concentrate on driving, not pushing buttons or swiping at touch-screens.

In your operation, you probably have identified more tasks that could be made easier through improved equipment ergonomics. Machines are intended to make the workday easier to bring greater convenience to your technicians. Ergonomics is being put into workplaces everywhere to provide a more productive and safer environment.


The Sampler Port Explained


My competitor has a 6-inch plugged fitting on top of his tank. I asked him what that was for and he told me it was a sampler port. What is a sampler port?

Sam Thomason

Enid, Okla.



Some disposal facilities require a sample of waste to be offloaded from your truck. Most of these dumpsites are located in the bigger cities and regulated by city or state ordinances. Upon arriving, the driver opens the sampler port and a sample is taken and tested for hazardous materials, such as cyanide, chromium and copper. The load is then rejected or charged an extra fee for the dangerous materials contained inside the tank.

Some materials dumped into the wrong places can be dangerous to the water supply or to the public health. Typical waste from portable restrooms and septic tanks is fundamentally no problem. Rural areas generally don’t require testing.

Every state has its own legal requirements for dumping. Don’t overlook or assume the regulations for your area. We all pay a price for illegal dumping. Know your costs for doing business and price your service accordingly.


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