Package delivery drivers face serious injuries from:
- Entering and exiting vehicles
- Heavy lifting
- Shifting and unstable loads
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Animal encounters
The information provided on this page can help employers and employees identify and evaluate existing or unforeseen safety and health hazards, and provides recommendations on how injuries can be prevented.
In addition, the page includes information on the rights and protections package delivery drivers are entitled to under Washington law.
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Data shows most injuries involving delivery drivers in Washington fall into four categories. L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has these tips for making it safer to do your job.
Getting in and out of vehicles
- Park your vehicle so you’re able to step out onto level ground or pavement when possible
- Use 3-points of contact – handholds, steps – when climbing in and out of the vehicle. Don’t jump!
- Use hand rails when going up or down stairs
- Make sure your shoes have good traction
- If a package requires both hands to carry, climb out of the vehicle first and then pick it up
Lifting and carrying
- Carry only the number and weight of packages you can safely handle
- Make two trips if needed, or use a hand truck if you have one
- Avoid carrying a tall stack of packages that blocks your view of the ground ahead of you
- Place heavier packages where you can lift them at waist height
- Bring packages close to you when lifting them. Keep them close to you when carrying and putting them down
- Square up to the load; don’t twist to lift a package
- Pocket your phone to improve your grasp
Watch out for animals
- Don’t run! Running into a dog’s territory (its yard) can seem like an attack to the dog. It will defend itself and its turf. Running away can trigger a dog to chase you.
- Have customers shut their dogs away before getting close or handing them a package. A dog might defend its owner if it sees you reaching toward them.
- If an animal attacks, stand still and use the package as a shield
Contact with objects
- Avoid carrying a tall stack of packages that blocks your view of objects
- Don’t rush when inside the vehicle. Be aware of items at head height
- Use a headlamp or flashlight when delivering in dark areas, so you can spot any hazards
- Be aware of any potentially dangerous objects or people. Look around when walking. Check your phone when you’re back in the vehicle.
L&I’s Division of Occupation Safety and Health has these recommendations to help package delivery companies reduce the rates of injuries and subsequent workers’ compensation claims.
- Install a swivel driver’s seat to reduce lower back forces when drivers reach for items in the passenger seat
- Provide smaller tote bags to reduce reach distances
- Reduce maximum loads for bags to 35 pounds, which would also likely lower the average weight drivers have to lift
- Provide more time for load-out when there are more packages. Set workers up for success without rushing. Keep lifting pace at 5 per minute or fewer year round.
- Develop a process for handling that keeps heavier oversize packages at waist level when lifted and lowered
- Reduce the reach distance at the rear of the van by redesigning the bumper to reduce the depth, or provide a bolster that acts like a bridge for sliding things across
- Provide your drivers additional on-the-job lifting training, as well as real-time supervision and coaching during load out
Washington law provides workers with a number of rights and protections that are enforced by L&I’s Employment Standards program. Here are some of the key elements of those rights.
Employers must pay workers at least the state minimum wage for all hours worked.
Meal & rest breaks
Most workers must receive a 30-minute unpaid meal period if working more than five hours in a day. Most workers receive a 10-minute paid rest break for each four hours worked and must not work more than three hours without a break.
Employer must pay employees at least once a month on a regularly scheduled payday.
Record keeping requirement
Employers must provide a pay statement showing the pay period, number of hours worked, rate of pay, number of piece work units (if piece work), gross pay, and all deductions.
Employee versus independent contractor
An independent contractor is exempt from the Washington State Minimum Wage Act (MWA). An employer, however, cannot avoid complying with the MWA by merely referring to someone as an “independent contractor.”
Paid sick leave
Most workers earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. At least once per month, employers must provide a statement that includes accrued, used and available hours of this leave.
Equal Pay and Opportunities Act
Prohibits employers from providing unequal pay or career advancement opportunities based on gender.
Washington State Family Care Act
Allows employees their choice of paid leave options to care for qualifying family members. This leave can be used for the following: Child with a health condition requiring treatment or supervision including preventative health care, or an individual who is disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth.