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Drivers spend many hours each day sitting in a truck, bus or car. These vehicles can be equipped to become their mobile office. Similar to how employers can use ergonomics — the study of how people interact with their environment to work effectively — to allow for a safe office environment, employees should focus on ergonomics for vehicles as well. Driver performance and productivity can be increased by investing in ergonomic measures that can enhance the work environment, prevent accidents and lead to a healthy workforce. 

Observing daily tasks can help identify ergonomic problems. Drivers should report any equipment damage or failure immediately. Investigations into equipment damage or failure can help identify problems as well. 

Common injuries of drivers can come from repetitive motions, such as  

  • climbing in and out of vehicles,  
  • pushing or pulling objects and  
  • bending and lifting activities.  
Injuries to the neck, back, shoulders and wrist can arise from these activities. Remember to always use three points of contact while entering and exiting any vehicle.  

Ergonomic design and proper training can help prevent on-the-job injuries. Employees should receive training continuously on the best safety practices that can help avoid injury and complacency.  

Ergonomic upfits can include adding automation to the vehicle to allow a task to be completed mechanically, rather than manually by an employee. An example is using a mechanical arm to dump trash or recycling carts. Adding steps designed to prevent slipping as well as handholds to vehicles can prevent slipping.  

Adjusting the cab area to promote good posture will allow the driver to be comfortable and be able to operate the vehicle correctly. Seats should be adjusted so that the driver can reach the pedal, steering wheel and other controls and have the ability to see out the windows and view the mirrors. The seat should also provide support to shoulders and back as well as restraint for the head. The steering wheel should be adjusted so that there is enough space between it and the chest of the driver in order for the seatbelt and air bags to provide maximum safety protection. 

Safe driving does not come only from taking care to avoid vehicle accidents — the vehicle should also be checked over for ergonomic improvements so that the driver can access and operate it as safely as possible.  

Risk Management Services can provide stickers to place on vehicles to remind drivers to always use three points of contact when entering or existing a vehicle. Contact loss control staff at losscontrol@masc.sc to request the stickers.