The combination of long hours of sitting punctuated by periods of loading and unloading heavy goods makes long-haul trucking one of the highest-risk occupations for musculoskeletal injuries.
In fact, those injuries occur nearly four times more often among long-haul truck drivers than among other workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite the higher risk, little information is available about the types of injuries that affect long-haul truck drivers.
Which injuries are the most common? How do they occur? To answer these questions, a study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed information from the 2010 NIOSH National Survey on Long-haul Truck Drivers, published in 2014.
The study appeared in the journal Workplace Health & Safety.
The large-scale survey comprised 1,265 long-haul truck drivers in 32 truck stops in five regions nationwide: the South, Great Lakes, Central, West, and Northeast.
Researchers required all survey participants to have worked as a driver on a large truck (three or more axles) for at least 12 months.
Other criteria for the study included working as a long-haul truck driver as a primary occupation and taking at least one 10-hour rest period during each out-of-town delivery run.
Musculoskeletal injuries occur nearly four times more often among long-haul truck drivers than among other workers
Types and Causes of Injuries
Ninety-five of these long-haul truck drivers reported experiencing work-related injuries over the past year.
The most common types of injuries were sprains and strains, accounting for 60% of injuries reported in the survey.
The arms were the most commonly affected body part, making up 26% of all musculoskeletal injuries reported, followed by the back at 21%.
Looking at cause, most of the musculoskeletal injuries reported (39%) stemmed from falls, followed by contact with an object or equipment (34%).
Overall, more than half of the injuries reported within the 12 months before the survey led to time away from work, with 21 days the average number of days.
The findings from this large-scale survey underscore the importance of developing ways to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among long-haul truck drivers.
This article is based on materials provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Content may be edited for style and length.