Forklift drivers often report low back and neck discomforts associated with prolonged driving. What is it about their jobs that predisposes them to this type of discomfort and what can be done to mitigate the risk? Ask one of out ERGOnomists to help you assess their jobs and make improvements to reduce their injury risk!
What are the risk factors?
- Frequent neck twisting, particularly when driving in reverse and moving through tight spaces
- Frequent back twisting, also most prevalent during driving in reverse
- Note: standing style trucks tend to decrease the severity of twisted neck and back postures due to the sideways standing posture and the ability to twist from the hips and knees
- Exposure to vibration and shock due to poor flooring surfaces and uneven dock plates
- Lifting after prolonged sitting. Prolonged sitting causes the ligaments in the back to stretch, increasing the risk of injury when a driver gets out of the trucks to perform a lift
What can you do?
- Promote the use of stand up trucks, or if using seated trucks, look for seats with a small pivot to assist with twisting
- Encourage drivers to get off their truck every 60 minutes, and to walk for 2-3 minutes before resuming driving or any heavy lifting tasks
- Performing a slight back extension (leaning back) may counteract the stretched ligaments and protect the back if performed prior to lifting
- If you have uneven floors or substantial dock plate shocks, consider replacing truck seats with seats with shock absorbers or invest in stand up trucks with spring suspended floor boards
- If vibration is a substantial concer, our ERGOnomists are now using an app (WBV) developed by the University of Melbourne and validated by Laurentian University to measure whole body vibration