But you who drive trucks for a living are probably well aware that truck driving is one of the hardest jobs on the body.
According to Heather Dunn in her excellent article about truck driving ergonomics, it is always at or near the top of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) list of professions for lost work due to injury.
Not only are the long hours of sitting hard on your back, but so are your other tasks. It is easy to overlook the heavy toll that securing loads, stacking, or handling freight can have on the body.
The good news is there are several things you can do to lessen the risk of injury.
Dunn gives these suggestions to help truck drivers understand the best ergonomics for their job:
- Vary your seat position slightly every 30 to 60 minutes to vary the stress on your body.
- Change hand positioning on the steering wheel often. Do not squeeze harder than necessary.
- Use a steering wheel cover to protect your hands from a cold wheel.
- Use a gel seat cushion if the truck vibrates too much
- Adjust the depth and height of the seat so your feet can comfortably reach the gas pedal, break and clutch, and ensure the pedals can be pressed all the way through.
- The backrest should be adjusted so the steering wheel can be accessed with slightly angled arms.
- The lumbar support helps to support the lower back and avoids “hollow back” or “hunchback” sitting postures.
- Ensure the back is leaning on the backrest from the buttock to the shoulder blades.
- The thighs should be completely supported by the seat. The back of the knee should be kept an inch from the seat cushion.
- Do not select a seat suspension setting that is too soft; otherwise the seat may hit the floor when driving in poor road conditions. This could damage your spine.
- Turn on the horizontal suspension to cushion against horizontal shocks while operating the truck off-road or with a trailer, or when transporting liquids.
- Sit with your buttocks against the back of the seat, your upper body in an upright position, extend your chest outward, and lean back your upper body.
- Do not go directly from prolonged sitting to lifting and carrying tasks. Give your back a few minutes to adjust by completing other tasks such as paperwork or checking emails.
- Never twist your back. When entering and exiting the truck, turn your body first before stepping up or down. When carrying objects, turn with your feet instead of twisting the spine.
- Moving from a warm truck into cold outside temperatures can cause muscles to stiffen.This puts you more at risk for injury when lifting objects. Keep a vest or jacket close by and use it.
- Use gloves to protect the hands from the cold and to reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Stand up and move to a different position to do paperwork or other tasks.
Source: Heather Dunn/ Team Run Smart Freightiners