Self-reported musculoskeletal problems amongst professional truck drivers
Occupational driving has often been associated with a high prevalence of back pain. The factors that contribute to cause the pain are diverse and might include prolonged sitting, poor postures, exposure to whole-body vibration, and other non-driving factors such as heavy lifting, poor diet or other psychosocial factors. In Europe, truck drivers are likely to be considered an ‘at risk’ group according to the Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive and therefore risks will need to be reduced. This questionnaire-based study set out to examine the relationship between musculoskeletal problems and possible risk factors for HGV truck drivers to help prioritize action aimed at risk reduction. Truck drivers (n=192) completed an occupational questionnaire with two measures of vibration exposure (weekly hours and distance driven). Items on manual handling, relevant ergonomics factors and musculoskeletal problems were also included. Reported exposures to vibration ranged from 12 to 85 hours per week, with a mean of 43.8 hours. Distances driven ranged from 256 to 6400 kilometres (mean 2469 km). Most of the respondents (81%) reported some musculoskeletal pain during the previous 12 months, and 60% reported low back pain. Contrary to expectations, vibration exposures were significantly lower among those who suffered musculoskeletal symptoms when distance was used as an exposure measure. Manual handling and subjective ratings of seat discomfort were associated with reported musculoskeletal problems.