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Tips for a more comfortable drive

5 November 2021 • 3 min read

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Human bodies are designed to move, not to spend long periods folded into unforgiving vehicle seats. Unfortunately, this means your drivers, who spend hours behind the wheel, risk developing neck, back, shoulder, wrist and leg pain over time. In fact, research published in the Journal of Occupational Health showed that more than 40% of professional drivers will experience musculoskeletal pain during their career.

In business, driving for long periods often cannot be avoided, so it’s important to learn how ergonomics can help mitigate these health risks.

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is about arranging a workplace to fit people, instead of the other way around. The practice draws on disciplines such as anatomy and physiology to understand how environments - such as a vehicle - can best complement efficiency and productivity while minimising risks such as poor posture and repetitive movements.

Why is driving ergonomics important?

Poor posture while driving can lead to repetitive strain injuries and chronic musculoskeletal conditions over time. One study of bus drivers revealed 80.5 per cent suffered back or neck pain, an indicator of the pressure driving can place on spinal health.

Balancing these risks through ergonomics is part of looking out for the physical and mental well-being of your drivers. As well as letting your team know you care, it helps to keep them safe, comfortable, and able to work.

Ultimately, good ergonomics can support the overall performance of your team.

Vehicles aren’t intuitively designed for good ergonomics. Helping your drivers to make conscious adjustments can ensure they are in a better sitting posture.

Adjusting the driver’s seat

Position the seat base horizontally so the hips and knees are in a straight line.

Tilt the backrest slightly, at an angle of between 100 and 110 degrees; slightly further back than a perpendicular 90 degrees. This angle places less pressure on the driver’s lower back, according to guidelines from physiotherapists. Recline any more than this and the head will be craned forward, causing stress to the neck.

If the vehicle has adjustable lumbar support, position it so the driver can feel even pressure from their shoulders to hips. You could even try adding lumbar pillows to your vehicles if they don’t have built-in support.

Finally, check the height of the headrest and adjust it so it rests against the centre of the driver’s head.

Reaching the pedals

Position the seat so the driver can press each pedal flat firmly, without pulling their back away from the backrest. Make sure their knees are slightly bent when pushing the pedals, to help prevent knee pain.

Drivers should rest their left foot on the footrest as much as possible, to support a stable back and pelvis position.

Holding the steering wheel

While sitting with your shoulder blades resting comfortably against the seat, you should be able to extend straight arms and rest the base of your wrists on top of the steering wheel. This means that when driving, your arms will be bent to a comfortable 120 degrees. This helps avoid strain to the neck, shoulders and upper back.

Placing hands at 9 and 3 o’clock on the wheel also keeps shoulder muscles relaxed. You should avoid draping one hand over the top of the wheel or reaching across the body to hold it on the opposite side.

Share these tips with your team to help keep them healthy and productive on the road.

Tags Business Wellbeing

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