The Importance of Ergonomics
Ergonomic principles are used to make a workplace suitable for the employees. Making beneficial changes improves the safety and productivity, but what about occupations with variable conditions. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, truck drivers top the list of professionals who lose the most time from work due to work-related injuries. The musculoskeletal injuries of the low back are the greatest concern. So what changes can be made to improve the conditions of long haul drivers?
Understanding the Full Occupation
The back breaking work of truck driving is not just in the long hours behind the wheel. To begin with truck drivers are exposed to continual vibration and bouncing, which can cause trauma not only to the muscles, tendons, joints, but the nerves of the entire musculoskeletal system. Add to this the loading and unloading of heavy items from the truck, and attaching and detaching the trailer and you have the prefect recipe for developing a work-related injury. Unfortunately, simply getting out of the cab can be problematic, as one of the most common causes of injuries to the upper extremities in truck drivers comes from slipping off the truck step and grabbing the handle bar to keep from falling.
Important Tips for Reducing the Chance of Injury:
- During any work activity, people should be comfortable and assume a number of different postures and not remain in one position for an extended time. Muscles will fatigue and be more prone to injury when assuming a particular posture for to long. The best posture for a driver is an upright position where the lumbar is supported in a correct and comfortable curve. The head should be back over the shoulders and in a relaxed neutral state.
- When performing tasks after prolonged sitting remember to stretch the muscles first. It will also be important to keep the joints either in their neutral posture or approximately halfway into the range of motion during the task. Working with your joints at the extremes of their ranges of motion for prolonged periods places abnormal stresses on them and can cause repetitive stress injuries.
- When lifting from the floor, keep your back straight and lift with the legs. Do not bend over at the waist and lift with the muscles of the low back. Your body is more easily injured in this position. Keep the object being lifted close to your body. Keep your elbows flexed. Keep your head up and your neck straight as you lift.
- Most importantly an assessment of your spinal health. This assessment will better enable the practitioner to begin to address any injuries that may already be affecting your health.
For Truckers, getting spinal care can mean the difference between staying comfortably on the road and being laid up in bed for days at a time with back pain and other injuries. Luckily, more chiropractors are setting up offices at truck stops across the country, which allows the 2.5 million long-haul truck drivers to get spinal treatment while they are on the road.