Can an employee get injured by just sitting in a vehicle and driving?
The answer is, “Yes.” It’s all about proper ergonomics.
The sitting position flattens the small of the back, increasing the pressure on the discs in the spine. When a person sits, the discs may not be able to handle the vibrations coming from a moving vehicle.
Also, the ligaments in the back that help hold the spine together can stretch and slacken when the body is in a sitting position for a long time. And the ligaments can stay that way for a while, even after the driver stands.
The stresses on employees’ discs and ligaments can increase their risk for back injury.
Who’s at risk? Truck drivers, emergency medical technicians, mass transit drivers, delivery people, heavy equipment operators, farmers and forklift operators.
Here are some reminders you can give these workers to avoid injury from driving:
- Make sure you can reach the steering wheel without stretching your arms
- Adjust the seat so you can press the foot pedals without moving your lower back forward off the seat back
- Tilt the seat cushion until your thighs are supported along the full length of the cushion without pressure at the back of your knees
- Tilt your seat a notch or two back and forth every half hour to change the direction of vibration on your body
- Keep the vehicle’s suspension in good working order
- Use a lumbar support (or a rolled up towel) to help you fit the back rest to your back
- Use good posture, and
- Take regular stretch breaks for several minutes every hour or two.
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