New Jersey truck drivers perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. While the dangers of truck crashes are well known, truck drivers face other job hazards that don’t make the news. Musculoskeletal injuries are a common hazard of truck driving that result in a lot of days off from work.
What the data shows
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a survey of almost 1,300 full-time long-haul truck drivers. Participants in the survey were asked about work-related injuries, including minor injuries as well as severe ones that required time off from work. Researchers found that 60% of truck driver injuries are sprains and strains.
According to the survey, the most common reason truck drivers are injured is because of falls. Falls accounted for 38.9% of reported injuries while contact with objects or equipment accounted for 33.7% of reported injuries. Among the injuries that were mentioned in the survey, 53% required truck drivers to take time off from work.
Truck driving is more dangerous than construction
Suffering from a severe work-related injury and going through the workers’ compensation claim process is no fun. However, truck drivers have to do this more than twice as often as construction workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries and illnesses that require days off from work happen at a rate of 355.4 cases per 100,000 full-time workers in the trucking industry. To compare, the incident rate is 168.9 in construction and extraction and 147.8 in farming, fishing and forestry.
Injury prevention in truck driving
Truck driving can be a perfect storm for musculoskeletal injuries since truckers must be sedentary for long periods of the day and then load and unload heavy cargo. When truckers become fatigued from lack of sleep or poor diet, this can make the risk of injury even greater. Truckers may be able to mitigate the risk of injury with proper body mechanics and supportive seat cushions. Eating healthy and getting proper rest can also help.