Forest Industry Safety & Training Alliance, Inc.

Ben Parsons, FISTA Training CoordinatorAugust 2014

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!

Every professional commercial driver knows it is part of our responsibility to make sure we, and our equipment, are safe on the road.  This starts with the pre-trip inspection, otherwise known as a “walk-around”.  With time, complacency sometimes slips in, especially if we are in the same piece of equipment, or truck every day.  It’s easy to take some things for granted and not check them because we may say to ourselves, “I just checked that yesterday and it was good”.  Next thing we know, we are regularly skipping over items that should be checked every day.  I’m hoping it’s a safe bet that you can list every item that should be visually or physically inspected before heading down the road.  But just in case you’ve forgotten a few things, let’s run through a DOT pre-inspection checklist to jog your memory.

On ALL vehicles, the following should be checked:

Front of Vehicle

  • lights & reflectors
  • mirrors
  • engine compartment
  • oil level
  • coolant level
  • power steering fluid
  • water pump
  • alternator
  • leaks & hoses
  • air compressor
  • master cylinder
  • automatic transmission fluid
Steering
  • steering box & hoses
  • steering linkage
  • front wheel
  • tires
  • rims
  • lug nuts
  • hub oil seal
Front Suspension
  • springs & shocks
  • U-bolts
  • spring mounts
  • front brake
  • brake hoses or lines
  • brake chamber
  • slack adjustor & push-rod
  • drum & linings or rotor & disk
Driver/Fuel Area
  • door & mirror
  • fuel tank & cap & leaks
  • catwalk & steps
  • lights & reflectors
  • under vehicle
  • drive shaft
  • exhaust system
  • frame
Rear Axles
  • tires
  • rims
  • lug nuts
  • hub oil seal
  • spacers or budd spacing

Rear Suspension

  • springs & shocks & airbags
  • U-bolts
  • spring/air mounts

Rear Brakes

  • brake hoses or lines
  • *brake chamber
  • slack adjustor & push-rod
  • drum & linings or rotor & disk

Rear of Vehicle

  • doors & lift
  • splash guards
  • lights & reflectors

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For ALL Combination Vehicles, check the following:

Trailer Front

  • header board or bulkhead
  • lights & reflectors
  • side of trailer
  • landing gear
  • frame & tandem release
  • doors & ties & lifts
  • lights & reflectors

Trailer Wheels

  • tires
  • rims
  • lug nuts
  • hub oil seal
  • spacers or budd spacing

Trailer Suspension

  • springs & shocks & airbags
  • U-bolts
  • spring/air mounts

Trailer Brakes

  • brake hoses or lines
  • brake chamber
  • slack adjustor & push-rod
  • drum & linings or rotor & disk

Rear of Trailer

  • doors & lift
  • splash guards
  • lights & reflectors

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On ALL Combination Vehicles, check the following:

On a commercial truck, check

  • air & electric connectors
  • coupling system mounting bolts, pintle hook, hitch release lever and safety devices

On the trailer, check

  • air & electric connectors
  • tongue storage area
  • coupling system tongue or drawbar, mounting bolts, safety devices, sliding pintle

For a tractor, check

  • air & electric connectors
  • coupling system mounting bolts, platform, locking jaws or lever, release arm and safety latch, 5th wheel skid plate, slide 5th wheel pins

For a semi-trailer

  • air & electric connectors
  • coupling system kingpin, apron and gap

Once you enter the vehicle, there are still a few more things to check from the cab.  Inside the vehicle, check the following:

  • safety belt
  • emergency equipment
  • safe start
  • temperature and oil pressure gauge
  • ammeter or voltmeter gauge
  • air gauge and conduct an air brake check
  • lighting indicators
  • horn(s)
  • heater & defroster
  • windshield (including the wipers and washers) & mirrors
  • parking brake and / or service brake 
  • if a hydraulic system, check/electric assist and pressure

As a logger, pre-use checks don’t just start and end with the truck and trailer.  All of our harvesting equipment should also undergo similar checks per the owner’s manual.  Even our chainsaw should undergo a daily inspection.

A simple daily chainsaw inspection should start by locating and checking the functionality of the five required safety features:

  • chain brake
  • chain catch
  • throttle lock
  • anti-vibration system
  • spark arrestor

Wrap up your saw’s pre-work inspection by checking for any:

  • loose nuts, bolts or screws
  • cracks or other damage
  • ignition switch

Other valuable checks like filters, spark plug, wear, etc. should be addressed during routine maintenance.

Be safe and hope to see you at The Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo next month!


Ben Parsons, FISTA Training Coordinator, is originally from West “By God”, Virginia as they say in that part of the Appalachian Mountains. His family’s deeply rooted philosophy of living off the land was monumental in deciding to earn a degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University.  Throughout his career, Ben has had the opportunity to tackle a wide variety of assignments.  He measured Forest Inventory and Analysis research plots in Virginia and Georgia, been involved with urban and utility forestry operations throughout the Appalachian region, procured lowland hardwood timber in the swamps of South Georgia, managed logging contracts and harvest operations in Arkansas and specialized in water quality and harvest planning as well as fighting forest fires in Virginia. As FISTA Training Coordinator, helping to meet your safety and educational needs is the number one priority here at FISTA.  For more information, contact Ben at 800-551-2656 or ben.parsons@fistausa.org

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