Opening/Closing Trailer Doors

Trailer doors

Opening and closing trailer doors are two of the leading causes of work-related injuries for truck drivers. Read the information below, and ask yourself if there are actions you can take to protect yourself from harm.

Recognize the Hazards


High winds can catch a swinging trailer door while you are holding it and cause back or shoulder strains. The door could also hit you with great force. Potholes, ice, mud, and uneven ground around the rear of the trailer can also lead to slips, trips, and falls when opening or closing trailer doors.


Cargo could shift in transit and fall on a driver if he or she opens the door carelessly. Doors that are not properly secured to the side of the trailer can also get caught by the wind and hit the driver if he or she is not careful.

Personal Behaviors

Standing in the path of falling cargo, hurrying, failing to use a door strap, and ignoring slip, trip, and fall hazards around the truck are unsafe behaviors that contribute to injuries sustained while opening and closing trailer doors.

Know the Defense

  1. Start by stretching your back and shoulders.
  2. Ensure there are no obstacles or people that could prevent opening the doors.
  3. Check the wind direction.
  4. Look for slip, trip, and fall hazards around the trailer.
  5. Install door straps, if available.
  6. Stand behind the left-side trailer door and feel the right-side door for pressure from fallen cargo.
  7. If there is no pressure, open the right-side door enough to peer inside for signs of fallen cargo. Do the same for roll-up doors.
  8. If cargo has shifted, try to close the door and lock it, then ask for assistance. Do this for roll-up doors also.
  9. If cargo falls, get away from the area quickly. Do not attempt to catch falling cargo.
  10. If cargo is secure, open the door completely, and secure it to the side of the trailer. Do not attempt to catch a trailer door if it is caught by the wind.
  11. Visually inspect behind the left-side trailer door. Do not open the door if fallen cargo is pressing against the door.
  12. If cargo is secure, open the door and secure it to the trailer.

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent. 

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© Great West Casualty Company 2018. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2018. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.

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