Fleets are taking driver safety more seriously than ever, and for good reason. Distracted driving is on the rise and in-vehicle safety tech has become more easily accessible for fleets to implement. However, the physical well-being of the driver is another important aspect for fleets to consider. Indeed, fleet drivers who are spending a bulk of their day on the road are at risk of health-related issues.
According to a 2010 Gallup Poll, extensive commutes can contribute to a bevy of health issues. Further still, beyond driving vehicles for an extended period of time, ergonomic issues that are related to improper physical movements to complete work duties can cause musculoskeletal disorders.
Fleet drivers are likely to exceed the average work forces commute time, which is 90 minutes according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
This is important to consider as studies have noted health-related problems to those who drive for extended periods of time. This could include: neck, shoulder, and back pain; cramps and pressure points in the legs; low-back injury; and damage to the spinal disc, according to the Safety Services Company, which provides OSHA compliant safety training products.
To prevent these issues, the Safety Service Company suggested that drivers keep the back of their seat tilted at 110 degree angle from their legs to minimize pressure on the spinal disc. The company also suggests drivers tilt their seat slightly every 20 minutes during long trips when in vehicles that habitually vibrate, as this will change where vibration affects the body. Vibration can cause changes in tendons, muscles, bones and joints, and can affect the nervous system, according to studies from the Canadian Center of occupational health and safety.
Extensive sitting can also cause cardiovascular diseases. According to the Wall Street Journal, Robert Butler, an adjunct professor in Duke University’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery, said when people are sedentary, the heart has to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen through our systems. To prevent this, he said, if drivers are in the car for two hours or more, they should pull off at a rest stop to walk or do stretches such as kneeling lunges.
He also recommended drivers have an ergonomics expert assess the seat of their car.
Further still, musculoskeletal issues can be problematic for drivers. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are conditions that can affect your muscles, bones, and joints, according to Healthline.com. MSDs account for more than one third of all lost-workday cases, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Indeed, MSDs resulting from improperly loading or unloading vehicles are among the most common type of injuries in the construction industry alone. They also account for about half of all compensation claims, according to the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America. These injuries directly affect the bottom line, accounting for over $15 billion annually in direct costs to employers, according to a report from Liberty Mutual.
However, a number of upfitters exist that fleets may want to consider turning to improve the ergonomic practices in their fleet. Indeed, DECKED, Ranger Design, and Adrian Steel are a few upfitters that can provide improved shelving options and the like which can assist with the van and larger vehicles in your fleet.