How drivers can avoid injuries on the job
Truck drivers often receive training in order to utilize their equipment in a secure fashion that minimize risks for job site injuries. However, potential dangers lurk in mundane aspects of truck operations. Without proper care and technique, debilitating injury can result from the most insignificant actions. How many times have you heard of someone doing something simple then having excruciating pain? Like just simply bending over to pick up something light and then can’t straighten back up. This happens all too often. Dr. Gutiérrez along with Future Industrial Technologies have made it their mission to bring an end to these injuries. These injuries known as Cumulative Microtrauma (CMT) Disorders such as back, neck, shoulder and knee injuries, which cost North American companies over $20 billion a year! According to the US Department of Labor, the direct and indirect costs of just one sprain or strain injury can reach upwards of $60,000. Not to mention the personal pain and possibly life altering effects of these types of injuries.
As a specialist in occupational injury prevention and ergonomics, Dr. Arnoldo Daniel Gutiérrez your San Antonio Chiropractic Orthopedist feels that it is extremely important that drivers take proper care to protect themselves.
In my 28+ years of experience, excluding auto accident injuries, many cases I have seen of muscle, joint and disc injuries were caused by the accumulation of many little seemingly innocent things that eventually add up until something wears down and “breaks” –Dr. Gutiérrez
Unfortunately, most people don’t know that these little things are accumulating stress and tension nor do they know how to remove the stress and tension that has already been building up. Little by little, little things add up into big things. Many people sabotage their own bodies in a variety of “little” ways throughout the day that add up over years. Many don’t even realize how much pressure they are potentially putting on their bodies. Backs, shoulders and other body parts eventually give out after years of accumulated stress yet they don’t have any idea what happened.
Even something as simple as sitting in your truck for long periods can have significant impact. Sitting for long duration causes muscle tightness in the hamstrings and hip flexors. These muscles directly affect the knee joints, hips and low back which are all common areas for drivers to experience pain and discomfort. Chest muscles get tight from the arms-forward position, pulling the shoulder joints into an at-risk position and putting tension in the upper back and neck. Gripping the steering wheel causes the flexion muscles of the hands and forearms to be tight as well. The solution, is strategic and therapeutic stretches that will help to maintain the neutral length of the muscles. The stretches should be done daily, or even several times a day. Tight muscles and tendons are prone to straining and inflammation while joints that are under tension suffer from decreased motion and are prone to arthritis and other degenerative changes over time.
As we get older, our muscles and joints don’t work like they used to, so stretching is important and necessary. Some people roll right out of bed and expect their body to do all kinds of things and it’s just not ready! They put themselves at risk. Proper preparation is needed to reduce the chances of injury in the immediate and in the long run. The stretches taught in the training are easy to do, safe and effective. Some common stretches that we all learned back in gym class are more harmful than they are good. The head/neck roll is a good example — rolling your head backwards is not good for the joints in your neck.
One of the biggest challenges is changing habits. Many workers have been performing their duties in unhealthy fashions for years and will find it hard to change, citing the cliché about old dogs and new tricks. People don’t want to get hurt and they have families who don’t want them to get hurt. It’s not worth being stubborn about holding on to old habits that are just going to put you at greater risk of getting hurt. It’s pretty easy to modify the things you do to be safer once you know how. In the training, we demonstrate this and will feel the difference first hand. Self-preservation and having that one body you have last a lifetime is a strong motivating factor.
If self-preservation isn’t enough, perhaps employers should encourage workers to avoid actively or knowingly contributing to the development of a preventable injury, which could lead to them becoming a burden on their co-workers or their families. While these injuries cause lost production man-hours on a job site, it’s about more than that. It’s about the quality of life enjoyed.
It is just not OK to work hard your whole life and then end up broken for retirement. By then you’ve earned the right to enjoy it and by managing it well, your body can last long enough to allow you to do just that. If you are not thinking that far ahead maybe you should. Most people would agree that they do not want to lose their independence just because the calendar says that are in their 60s or 70s or even 80s.
If you are ready to find out if your company qualifies for any of these programs to reduce these avoidable injuries call Dr. Gutiérrez for a phone or in person consultation at (210) 366-4357