Driver’s Working Environment and Hazards and Musculoskeletal Disorders.
Every working environment has its set of hazards and risks but did you know that professional drivers face the most hazards and risks in the workplace? Yes, it’s true.
Compared to other occupational groups, professional drivers have to deal with a very non-health friendly and non-conducive working environment which in the long run, may incur significant damage on their health.
The long and extended hours of maintaining a sitting or reclining position under the heavy pours of rain or the scorching heat of the sun expose professional drivers into a greater health risk. It makes them susceptible to many health diseases including musculoskeletal disorders.
According to research, the long hours of sustaining a driving position exerts pressure on the spine. Subsequently, this can lead to the development of musculoskeletal disorders such as neck problems, backaches, general stiffness and pulled muscles.
Among the list of musculoskeletal disorders which may develop, lower back pain is considered to be one of the most common among professional drivers. In one study, 81% of American bus drivers and 49% of Swedish bus drivers are suffering from low back pain due to their current job.
Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the major reasons behind the growing rate of absenteeism in many working populations today. Compared to other working groups, professional drivers are found to have the greatest risk for lower back pain given the nature of their job. In fact, as per studies, LBP affects 81% of bus drivers, 51% of taxi drivers and 60% of truck drivers.
Musculoskeletal Disorders in Professional Drivers
Complications are observed, in lorry drivers who are tasked to deliver goods from one location to another. Most drivers complain about musculoskeletal problems on their knees, hands, hips, lower back, and shoulders. Other complaints include stiffness and pain in the neck, back, and upper limbs.
MSDs in professional drivers are, often, associated with a broad range of psychosocial and ergonomic risk factors. Among bus drivers, psychological stress factors, such as traffic congestion and short rest period on working days, are considered as major contributors.
In a scientific study involving 598 Italian professional drivers, the researchers concluded that the professional driving industry is facing an increase of lower back pain cases. Some researchers suggested that professional drivers are at a very high risk for lower back pain due to some significant factors which include carrying, lifting, awkward postures, prolonged sitting, and some psychosocial issues.
Other factors associated with Low Back Pain
Whole body vibration is also the primary element in the onset of lower back pain. Research shows that it can also trigger the development of other disorders such as early spine degeneration and herniated discs. Whole-body vibration occurs when the body shakes when it comes in contact with an oscillating surface. The vibrations of the car are transferred to the body especially to the soft tissues and spine which can cause back pain.
According to research, long term regular exposure to whole body vibration can lead to back pain. The longer the time you are exposed to body vibration, the greater is your chance of suffering from back pain, injuries, and disablement.
Sitting for throughout the long hours of trips makes drivers sustain an awkward position for an extended period. Maintaining a sitting positing for more extended hours puts greater pressure on the spine. Furthermore, slouching and slumping can create more significant stress and tension in the ligaments and muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. In the long run, this may cause pain and discomfort to the drivers.
Effects of Stress
According to research, over exposure to psychological stress caused by passenger hostility, poor accessibility to the lavatory, short lunch breaks, and undesirable traffic conditions can cause muscle tightness and spinal problems which may eventually lead to the development of musculoskeletal disorders.
Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activities
Due to the long hours of sustaining a reclining or sitting position, most drivers are less likely to engage in physical activities and exercise. Thus exposing them more susceptible to suffer from different types of musculoskeletal disorders.
According to research, increased physical activity plays a significant role in reducing the driver’s susceptibility to low back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders. Results of epidemiological studies revealed that exercise is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and the back, thereby reducing their risk of MSD. When you have time, try engaging in physical activities such as tai chi and yoga as they can help in toning your back muscles and thighs.
What to Do to Prevent Backaches when Driving
Your posture in driving can significantly affect your health in the future. Sustaining an awkward position for an extended period increases your susceptibility to backaches in the future. Also, back pain can significantly affect your driving performance which when left untreated, can lose one’s occupation and source of living. So what can you do to prevent backaches?
•As much as possible, try sitting with your buttocks very close to the backrest. You have the ideal position when your leg is slightly bent whenever you press the pedal on the floor
•Adjust your seat height to the most comfortable position. If your car has a seat tilt feature, prefer a tilt angle where you can easily press the pedal on the floor. Adjust the backrest by the tilt angle you choose.
•Make sure that the upper edge of the car’s headrest is aligned with the top head. Bear in mind that the headrest is playing a vital role in maintaining a healthy posture when driving.
•Ensure that the distance between the back of your knees and the edge of the seat should be around 2-3 fingers wide.
•Make sure that your shoulders are as close as possible to the backrest. By adjusting the angle of the backrest to a point where you can easily find the steering wheel with bent arms.
•Avoid driving for more than two hours. After two hours of driving, take a break and stretch your legs. Resting periods, for leg stretching, can help in relaxing your back and preventing fatigue.
•Try changing your driving positions now and then.
This post was created with the assistance from Driving Health Safety Issues and WP Robot 5,