Driving and Ergonomics Workplace Wednesday topic for Sept 17th
Sitting in a chair is not the same as siting in a car while driving. For instead, when you use the steering wheel, your hands and arms are higher than when you are working at a desk. Also, in order to operate the brake and accelerator pedals, you have to extend your legs more forward than you would when sitting at a desk.
If your vehicle has a manual transmission, you may be using the other foot on the clutch and one arm and hand to operate the gear shift- certainly, driving is much more work- not to mention that your full attention is needed on the road.
Most people, who spend long hours in cars, trucks, ambulance and the like, are likely to experience a wide variety of soreness, aches and pains. It can range from subtle pains to injuries such as foot cramps, low back pains, stiff neck, stress as well as sore shoulders. Drivers tend to experience these more often as it is more difficult to shift body positions while driving. However, passengers can also feel the same effects if they are sitting in a vehicle for prolonged periods without changing position or getting out of the vehicle and stretching or taking a break every hour or two. In addition, the body experiences up-and-down vibrations and forces from the car travelling on uneven or bumpy road surfaces and the body moves sideways when you turn on corners.
Tips for Drivers and Passengers
It is important to be comfortable while driving; especially professionals such as truck drivers who tend to spend long hours driving from one end of the country to the other. Vehicle features such as interior designed to provide postural and thermal comfort, sufficient room, acceptable noise levels, and adjustable features that allows the driver to fit the vehicle to their needs, goes a long way to prevent discomforts.
Moreover, when the seat is properly adjusted , the driver should be able to reach the pedals, steering wheel and other controls without stretching the legs and arms and should have a good view of the instruments, gauges, all mirrors, as well as a good vision through the front and side windows. If you are leaning too far back, you may end up bending your head and neck forward, which may cause muscle fatigue, neck or shoulder pain, tingling in the fingers, etc.
Driving is an unavoidable part of our everyday life; hence we should try to make it a positive experience every time.
Adapted from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)