As a truck driver, it’s likely that at some point during your career you will have to lift something heavy or move a large object around. Fortunately, there’s no reason why the love of your job should result in a personal injury.
It’s probably no surprise that one of the most common injuries suffered by truck drivers are back injuries. The problem is, back injuries are almost always preventable. The key is to do it safely and operate in good health. Here’s how you do that.
Safe Lifting Procedures
One study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that over 36 percent injuries, which lead were because of back injuries. Almost all back injuries are caused because of an improper lift.
Avoid unnecessary injuries by keeping these practices in mind as you lift a heavy object:
- Don’t be a hero. If an object is too heavy, get help.
- Make sure the object is positioned properly before you try to lift it.
- Make sure your path is clear.
- Always bend at your knees.
- Lift with your legs, not your back.
- Try not to twist your body while you are carrying a heavy object.
- Bend at the knees to lower the object down once you’ve reached the destination.
Some situations require that you use a hand cart or truck. If you are called on to do so, remember it is always better to push than to pull. Ensure you are moving slowly and have the cart under your control at all times. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you have to lunge or stretch to regain control of the cart.
Also be careful when loading cargo onto a vehicle or performing tasks such as unlocking the fifth wheel or trailer slider. Make sure you never bend and twist at the same time. Common back injuries occur when being bent over, twisted and trying to lift a heavy object.
Posture and Arm Strength
Posture and arm strength play a big role in ensuring back safety. If you have poor posture while you’re sitting, you could wind up with back or neck strain, common precursors to worse back injury.
Always try to keep your knees slightly higher than your hips and maintain a seated position all the way back in the seat. Avoid letting your back slouch or curve excessively while in the seat. Also try standing without slouching and change foot positions regularly when you stand, as these movements can help prevent potential back problems.
Weak knees and shoulders also act as contributing factors in back strain or injury. This usually happens when a person attempts to compensate for weak shoulder or knee abilities by using more back muscles. By utilizing basic strengthening exercises involving your arms and legs, you can help prevent back problems down the line.
One of the primary causes of back problems among truck drivers specifically is when they jolt themselves either too harshly or too quickly. There are a number of ways this can be done.
You may be at risk for a back breaking “jolt” if you:
- Are in a seat that is not adjusted properly or does not “bottom out” correctly.
- Do not step down off of the vehicle deliberately and carefully.
- Don’t pull straight and steady on anything (heavy object or otherwise) that needs to be pulled.
- Always watch where you step and ensure obstructions are clear.
Finally, one of the most simple and effective ways to keep back pain or injury at bay is by stretching. Simple, regular stretches help to keep your muscles limber and your joints lubricated. It is especially important to stretch after a rest or before you’re about to lift a heavy object.
Above all, remember that a back injury can severely disable you and prevent you from being able to get behind the wheel. Always take special care when lifting heavy objects or moving around in the cab and you’ll be back healthy for a long time.