Truck Driver MSDs – Strains, Sprains and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Whereas highway crashes are the leading cause of fatal trucker injuries, strains, sprains and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the leading causes of non-fatal injuries, lost time and workers compensation costs.


Driving for Long Periods of Time
Truck drivers can be exposed to back and neck injuries, cramps, pressure points and poor circulation in the legs and buttocks resulting from the long periods of time in which drivers sit. In addition, drivers can experience an increased risk of low back injury from lifting and other material handling tasks. Drivers who lead a physically inactive lifestyle may face deterioration in health. Prolonged sitting drops the employee’s physical activity to the lower limit needed for healthy body functioning. Common health problems suffered by drivers are disorders in blood circulation and injuries affecting their ability to move.

Whole Body Vibration

Whole body vibration is caused when vibration from bumps in the road cause up-and-down vibration through the truck frame and seating and, thus, throughout the driver’s body. Prolonged exposure to whole body vibration without extended periods of rest can lead to fatigue and increase the risk of back injury.

Recommendations for Motor Carriers

• When purchasing new vehicles, look for seating with good suspension and ergonomically designed features. Seating should be adjustable for height, position and lumbar support

• Keep the seating suspension system in good working order. If a seat sags or fails to retain its shape, the springs have worn out, and the seat needs to be replaced

Recommendations for Drivers

• Keep your seat and steering wheel adjusted properly. Make sure you can easily press the pedals without moving your back away from the seat

• Try to stay fit and physically active

Handling Freight, Lifting and Material Handling

Long-distance heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers spend most of their working time behind the wheel, but also may have to load or unload their cargo, or assist a forklift driver or lumper in doing so. This may require considerable lifting, carrying and walking each day. In addition to freight handling, causes of driver over-exertion injuries are often associated with:

• Coupling and uncoupling procedures (including pulling the fifth wheel pin)

• Raising and lowering heavy truck hoods

• Raising and lowering manual landing gear apparatus

• Handling tarps and performing cargo securement duties

 Recommendations for Motor Carriers

• Use lifting aids and material handling equipment to assist in loading and unloading of vehicles at dispatch and receiving points. Provide customized trolleys, dolleys and pallet movers, as necessary, to eliminate the need for manual lifting and handling

• Review, and improve if necessary, physical facilities at dispatch and receiving points

• A well-designed dock or loading bay can reduce manual material handling and increase safety. Important features include, slope of access ramps, dock levelers, safe traffic patterns, good lighting, etc.

• Motor carriers should establish training programs to teach employees how to avoid material handling injuries, particularly back injuries

Recommendations for Drivers/Lumpers/Dock Handlers

• Use lifting aids and material handling equipment to lift and move materials

• If material must be lifted by hand, use proper lifting techniques. Keep back straight, and legs bent

The content of this material has been taken in large part from information published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For more information, go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit ForTruckersOnly.com, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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