Driving for work offers many benefits: set your own schedule; enjoy a dynamic ‘office’ environment; meet interesting people throughout the day. Yet mobile workers who spend long periods of time in their vehicles have the same musculoskeletal risks as office workers.
Not only are drivers confined to their seats behind the wheel, they’re at risk of driver fatigue, poor dietary choices and physical strain overall. Add to this the necessity of finding somewhere to snap open their laptops and set up a mobile office and you can include eye strain, neck, shoulder and back issues to the list of nasties impacting your employees’ general wellbeing.
With mobile working on the increase, the team at ErgoWorks has compiled a list of 10 easy ways to safeguard your workers from the effects of driving related discomfort.
1. Avoid the effects of tiredness
Many road accidents are due to driver fatigue. Although most drivers stick to business hours in order to meet clients, if you’re a sales rep getting from Point A to Point B on a tight schedule, try to avoid driving between the peak fatigue times of 12am and 6am. If you are travelling long distances, rest for at least 15 minutes after a maximum of two hours’ driving to help reduce the wearying effects.
2. Ensure correct seat adjustments
Car seats now offer many adjustable features similar to your office chair so it’s important to understand these features and adjust them specifically for you. Ensure the seat is set so your legs are slightly bent when reaching the pedals and the seat height should be positioned so your hips are slightly higher than your knees. Some car seats also have a lumbar support function which should be positioned in the small part of your back. The backrest will support your spine, so ensure it is upright with a slight recline, but not reclining too far back.
3. Don’t work in your car
Your car isn’t your office and it was never designed as a place of work. If you are required to use your laptop, you should set yourself up in a café where you can use a laptop pack solution to ensure you are maintaining a good working posture.
4. Listen to your body
If you’re feeling stiff and achy, pull over for some gentle stretching. Aches and pains are a warning that your body needs a break. You don’t have to go for a long jog but walking with lengthy strides and stretching definitely helps.
5. Stay hydrated
Make sure you have plenty of bottled water in your car and maintain your fluids. A thirsty driver is a tired driver, which makes you more dangerous on the road. Keeping your body hydrated also goes hand in hand with the “get out and move” solution as it facilitates frequent stopping to use the restroom.
6. Cultivate good posture
Understanding and practising correct posture both in and out of your vehicle is one of the most effective ways to help reduce fatigue and prevent MSDs. Sitting upright without stooping puts less strain on your back.
7. Pay attention to your driving style
Smooth driving techniques include avoiding jerky movements, steady acceleration and allowing plenty of safe space for controlled braking. Communicating clearly with other road users by using your indicator lights in a timely manner helps avoid other drivers from losing their patience. Nobody wins in a ‘road rage’ situation.
9. Correctly load and unload your car
You may not work in a physically demanding environment, whereby lifting heavy items is an everyday occurrence, but lifting items in and out of your boot can often result in poor manual handling techniques. Look after your body by taking care to lift correctly when loading and unloading in order to help prevent back, shoulder, forearm and wrist strains.
10. Utilise ergonomic working
Spending hours driving then attempting to work with your laptop resting on your lap is risky business. Trying to fit your laptop, tablet, phone and printed collateral together on the passenger seat and on your lap will only make your cramped conditions more damaging to your health.
ErgoEquip has a range of solutions for mobile workers, which help maintain correct posture and minimise your work impacting your health. With the assistance of Ergoworks Consulting, you can equip yourself with a suitable portable workspace, so when you do find that café to check into you can enjoy your coffee and your computer in comfort.