Fleet News

ACFO aims to cut back pain losses

A MAJOR campaign is being launched to educate fleets about the problem of back pain that costs British industry billions of pounds every year through sick leave.

The campaign includes a radical call for fleets to let drivers hand company cars back if they prove too uncomfortable in a bid to combat the problem. Sickness absence due to lower back trouble is six times greater for people who drive cars for more than four hours a day as part of their job.

The Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) is sponsoring a leaflet which will be launched to coincide with National Back Care Week, starting on October 13.

The leaflet will promote stretches for drivers which can help with discomfort and fatigue, and aims to educate the fleet industry about what can be done to help alleviate the problem.

It will be produced by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in conjunction with Professor Mark Porter and Dr Diane Gyi, of Loughborough University, and Helen Williams, of HJ Consultancy.

The three ergonomic experts carried out a project called 'Reducing back pain in high mileage business drivers'.

The aim of the project was to highlight the hidden costs of sickness absence due to low back trouble, arising from high exposure to driving a car on company business, either clocking up 25,000 miles or spending more than four hours a day at the wheel. It was estimated that it could cost the industry up to £5 billion a year.

ACFO director Stewart Whyte said: 'There is already a considerable amount of information and guidance for employers concerning the physical risks to employees' health of work involving computers or manual handling, but until now there has been little information for high exposure business car drivers and their managers.'

Recommendations detailed in the website – www.driving ergonomics.com – include ensuring the driver is given specific training, which covers seat adjustment mechanisms and ergonomics/posture and providing an information pack which includes details on how to sit properly.

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    Tips for avoiding back pain

  • Choose a car seat base of adequate size, with an independent height and tilt
  • Choose a back rest which provides continuous support along the length of the back
  • Choose a fully adjustable steering wheel – up/down, in/out and tilt
  • Avoid a fixed, static driving posture – adopt a range of good and comfortable driving positions.
  • Avoid driving for long periods – take a break at least 15 minutes every two hours
  • Avoid using the car as an office as many of the tasks, for example, laptop use and paperwork, can involve poor constrained postures
  • Beware of restricting ergonomic choice through solus or dual-supply agreements or cost
  • Car selection should accommodate the ergonomic needs of individual drivers, with appropriate levels of adjustability to enable good and comfortable driving postures to be adopted
  • Ensure drivers have an input in the car selection process
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