Solution Summary: Hitch Step
The hitch step is an engineering control that may help reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from lifting and carrying while moving materials into and out of the truck bed. A hitch step is a metal stair attachment for the hitch of pickup trucks to assist with stepping into the truck bed.
Hitch steps mount to the hitch socket of pickup trucks. All hitch steps are designed to assist the user in stepping into a pickup truck bed. There are many different sizes and models of hitch steps.
BELXX Spin Step
The BELXX Spin Step also has a powder coated steel construction with a stand weigh capacity of 600 pounds. This assembly includes a hitch ball with a towing capacity of 6,000 pounds. It is designed to swivel in and out for storage and has a platform size of 9.5 by 16 inches.
BELXX Spin Step (Photo courtesy of BELXX)
Bully Black Bull Truck Hitch Step
The Bully Black Bull Truck Hitch Step has a powder coated steel construction and has a 350 pound maximum load. The Black Bull LED model fits both 1.25 inch and 2 inch hitch receivers. However, the non-LED model only fits 2 inch receivers
The Hitchmate® TruckStep is made of heavy duty steel and has a stand weight capacity of 500 pounds. It extends 23.5 inches and includes a pin which can be locked with a padlock. The step plate is 9.5 by 5.5 inches and fits 2 inch hitch receivers.
Heavy lifting and carrying can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg. The hitch step can help reduce heavy lifting and carrying while moving materials in and out of a truck bed.
How Risks are Reduced:
A hitch step helps the user keep natural stepping mechanics while loading and unloading material into and out of a truck bed. This allows for more gradual loading and unloading rather than awkward overexertion in one lifting session.
The manufacturer of Step-n-Tow states, “Besides convenience, safety is a great added feature [of the hitch step] for everyone in the family or work place.
Safety and health experts believe a hitch step allows easier loading and unloading of a pickup bed and therefore can reduce the risk of MSDs. There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of a hitch step on the incidence of MSDs.
The hitch step may also reduce the risk of knee disorders, since the knee will not be bent as much while stepping in and out of a truck bed. Also, a hitch step eliminates the need to jump down from the bed which can be stressful on the joints of the leg.
Effects on Productivity:
A hitch step may increase productivity by decreasing the time it takes to load and unload a pickup truck.
Whether using a hitch step or not, there is always potential for falling when climbing in and out of a truck bed. However, many hitch steps provide large surface areas and slip resistant designs to minimize fall risk.
There are also steps available which attach to the tailgate of the pickup truck, such as the Truck N’ Buddy Magnum Tailgate step. Specifications and purchasing information can be found at: http://www.discountramps.com/tailgate-step.htm
Truck bed unloaders can also be utilized for unloading materials from truck beds. More information can be found at: http://www.cpwrconstructionsolutions.org/solution/870/truck-bed-unloader.html
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; and Jesse Brouwer, SPT – Eastern Washington University