Truckers are highly susceptible to back injuries that could end their careers. These injuries can be chronic, life-altering and expensive to treat without compensation. Your employer should be taking steps to protect you from injury, and if they do not, you should know your legal options.
According to North Carolina law, even if you are an independent contractor with a trucking company you must be covered by a form of workers’ compensation insurance. Back injuries are common among people who sit for a majority of their day, including vehicle operators.
A common injury with mysterious origins
Back injuries can happen in several situations. Pushing, lifting, twisting or bending repeatedly while carrying heavy loads can create or aggravate a pre-existing condition. Poor posture can also affect your musculoskeletal system.
In addition, people who drive agricultural equipment or commercial vehicles for a living are susceptible to Whole Body Vibrations (WBV) for extended periods of time that can exceed OSHA’s safe exposure limits. These vibrations have been shown to affect the body in the following ways:
- Increase physical fatigue
- Increase mental fatigue
- Increase discomfort in lower back, forearms and wrists
The direct link between WBV and back pain isn’t fully understood but the consequences of fatigue are well-documented. Drowsiness at the wheel, decreased reaction time, decreased productivity, irritable mood and pain can create dangerous road conditions.
Many vehicles have a seat installed that uses a form of partial/passive suspension to minimize WBV exposure. These can be found in busses, trucks, agricultural equipment and other commercial vehicles. These seats usually abide by OSHA’s standards for WBV exposure.
A recent study found that new seats with “active suspension” reduce a driver’s exposure to WBV by 33 percent from the OSHA standard and resulted in operators feeling less fatigue and less discomfort.
If your back is hurting, it can be difficult to maintain a normal and healthy lifestyle. In addition to stretching, resting and following other health guidelines from doctors and employers, it is important to report any workplace injury immediately. Start receiving appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible so you can keep doing what you love for years to come.