Back pain and muscle injuries are among the problems staff face from issues as simple as misaligned clutch pedals, the meeting heard. Wendy Morris, ergonomics consultant for the Institute of Occupational Ergonomics at Nottingham University, said: 'The vehicle is becoming a mobile office for a lot of people, but whereas staff might have settled for any car in the past, if you are spending a lot of time in the vehicle, you need to choose wisely. With modern driving, for example, you may spend a lot of time in traffic jams, which will mean pressing down on the clutch pedal a lot. If the pedal is misaligned, then it could lead to long-term problems. It also comes down to what each individual needs and that can affect their choice of car.'
Research by Loughborough University has shown that drivers covering more than 25,000 miles a year in a car have more than 22 days off a year on average because of lower back problems, whereas those covering 5,000 miles a year have just over three days a year. Overall, back pain is responsible for about 116 million sick days and costs industry more than £5 billion a year, the transport unit at ICE Ergonomics, part of Loughborough University, estimates.