Truck Drivers Prone to Shoulder Injuries January 30, 2019
Truck drivers have an important – but dangerous job. Spending many hours on the road, handling dangerous equipment, and other hazards of the job puts these workers at risk of sustaining serious injuries.
According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, there were 987 fatal, and 77,470 non-fatal, injuries for this occupation in 2017. The BLS also reports that truck drivers had the highest number of work-related fatalities in 2016 and that “drivers/sales workers/ truck drivers” remained one of the top ten most dangerous occupations in 2017.
Common Causes of Truck Driver Injuries
Because these workers spend much of their time on the road, most truck driver injuries are the result of tractor trailer accidents. However, other major causes of injury include:
- Moving and lifting heavy objects: Truck drivers must often move and lift heavy objects during deliveries and pick-ups. They may therefore suffer musculoskeletal injuries to the back, neck, shoulders, and other parts of the body.
- Falling from stairs, vehicles, upper floors, or loading docks: Climbing in and out of large trucks can lead to fall accidents. Other causes of slips, trips, and falls include delivering items to upper floors and loading/unloading on uneven surfaces.
- Being struck by or caught in between objects: Workers may become struck by or caught in or between objects while hitching trailers, performing maintenance, or during other routine job tasks. Vehicle parts, lift gates, and other dangerous objects may cause serious truck driver injuries.
Techniques for Reducing Truck Driver Shoulder Injuries
A new study published in the Applied Ergonomics journal sought to reduce truck driver shoulder injuries by using strategic positioning during cranking of landing gears. Cranking the landing gear is a task commonly performed by truck drivers when raising or lowering trailers – it poses a hazard to workers due to the strain it causes to the shoulder joint. There is currently no definitive best practice as to how the task should be performed and therefore operators can crank either perpendicular or parallel to the crank rotation.
Researchers measured the scapular range of motion for 12 male truck drivers while performing cranking operations. They focused on 16 muscles affecting shoulder movement and found that parallel cranking (also called sagittal cranking) is the preferred method when raising trailers, while perpendicular cranking (also called frontal cranking) is the preferred method for lowering trailers.
Raising a trailer requires more resistance than lowering one, therefore sagittal cranking is safer because it requires workers to use more full-body strength instead of putting a disproportionate burden on the shoulders alone. Lowering a trailer, however, does not require the same level of resistance, therefore frontal cranking is the safer option for performing that task. Researchers hope that the results of this study will help to prevent shoulder as well as other truck driver injuries in the future.
Work Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Injured Truck Drivers
If you were injured on the job as a truck driver, an experienced work injury lawyer in Philadelphia can help you obtain benefits, including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. To arrange a free consultation, call Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. at 888-PITT-LAW today or contact us online.
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