Truck driving is one of the hardest jobs on the body. In fact, 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.
- 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.
Seat Adjustments (For exact measurement guidelines follow these steps)
- Get to know your seat
- Read your seat manual.
- Ask colleagues who have more experience with the seat to explain how it works or consult the seat manufacturer.
- 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.
- Stay hydrated and maintain proper nutrition. Your body can’t function and heal without the right tools.
- Good nutrition is key to feeling healthy and being physically fit.
- Avoid fatty or high-calorie foods. Such foods are difficult for the body to process and metabolize, mainly due to your stationary work.
- Consume vitamins by eating fresh fruits during your hauls. Vitamins strengthen the immune system and stabilize the circulatory system.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Drink at least one liter of liquids a day. This is a preventative measure against the thickening of the blood that can lead to thrombosis. Keep in mind that for each cup of coffee, you should drink a glass of water or fruit juice.
- Stay in shape. Being active and fit are excellent antidotes to tiredness.
- Frequent stretching is important. Change your seating position every 15 minutes.
- Exercise your heart and keep the muscles you don’t use at work strong for continued health.
- If you have a chiropractor, they can help design a program that is realistic for you.
For more information on creating your perfect ergonomic conditions, go to www.isriusa.com.