Musculoskeletal discomfort among drivers

How to establish the presence (or absence) of occupational risk and what to do about it.

Reports of musculoskeletal discomfort are prevalent among professional drivers – truck drivers, machine operators, couriers etc – and the risk of low back pain is known to be higher than average. Drivers generally experience several musculoskeletal disorder risk factors including exposure to whole-body vibration, sedentary work and awkward sitting postures. Underlying these physical risk exposures may be industrial issues, psychosocial factors and personal preferences which can motivate workers to raise concerns about particular work vehicles. This multifactorial problem can create significant challenges for safety and health professionals when trying to assess risk, manage injury and provide solutions. This discussion details:

  • Ergonomic principles of vehicle seating;
  • Common problems encountered with vehicle ergonomics including accommodating taller, broader and heavier workers;
  • Whole-body vibration exposure, static sitting and poor posture and their relative contribution to low back pain; and
  • Practical solutions for the prevention and management of musculoskeletal discomfort in drivers.

Case examples from industry are used to illustrate common problems, and practical solutions are offered to assist safety and health professionals to manage the ergonomic risk factors of occupational driving.

Full conference paper:  Visions Conference Vehicle Ergonomics Paper