Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ergonomics Behind the Wheel

Avoiding RSI while driving ...

"February 29, 2008 is International RSI Awareness Day, a day devoted to acknowledging the cause of over 39,000 workplace injuries in Ontario.(1) Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), are commonly associated with employees at desk jobs, but affect people in all professions and walks of life. Risks of developing MSDs are all around us, even in our car.

Over 8.8 million drivers travel along Ontario roads.(2) Our roads are filled with daily commuters, transport workers, people traveling to vacation destinations, or running daily errands.

Sitting in a moving vehicle can be hazardous to your health and can contribute to the development of MSDs. Typical problems from frequent driving include neck, back, and shoulder pain, cramps, poor circulation in the legs and buttocks, and a long-term potential for degeneration of spinal discs and disc herniation.

Pain and injury is preventable. The first step is recognizing the risk factors in your daily activities. The main risk factors for developing an MSD include awkward postures, excessive force, vibration, and repetition or long duration of exposure.

To identify whether you are at risk, ask yourself the following questions:

- Do you slouch when you drive?
- Does your low back get good support?
- Do you drive for two hours or more at a time?
- Do you stay in the very same position for long periods of time?
- Do you work in your vehicle?
- Do you have to bend and twist to lift things out of your vehicle?
- Do you have to lift heavy items out of your vehicle?
- Do you have to push or pull heavy items soon after driving?
- Is the vehicle maintenance, such as the suspension wheel conditions contributing to vibration?
- Is the seat designed to minimize the impact of vibration on your body?

Individuals at the highest risk for developing a driving related MSD include truck drivers, paramedics, heavy equipment operators, taxi and limousine drivers, bus drivers, forklift operators, farmers, delivery/courier people, traveling sales people, weekly cottage-goers, and commuters." (Continued via CNW Group) [Ergonomics Resources]

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