If you ask the average person what kind of injuries a truck driver risks as part of their profession, most people would rattle off common injuries associated with collisions.
Statistically, truck drivers are less likely than the people in the smaller vehicle involved in a crash to get hurt in a collision. The biggest risks to truck drivers, other than the sedentary lifestyle trucking involves, all deal with the repetitive strain involved in a driving job.
Truck drivers may develop accumulated trauma or injuries caused by performing the same tasks over and over again. When those injuries leave a trucker unable to get back to work, that may open the door for a workers’ compensation claim.
Though many truckers get paid by the mile, they often have to perform unpaid work by assisting others in loading and unloading the trailer from their vehicle. That heavy lifting can result in the potential for serious injury to the back, knees and other joints.
Most truck drivers receive some education about safe lifting, and many also have assistive devices, such as hand dollies, to help them move heavy items. Performing loading and unloading tasks daily for many years, even safely, can result in joint pain or severe back injuries related to repetitive motion. These injuries may keep a trucker from continuing in their profession after a certain point. Even sitting in the truck could exacerbate that pain.
While many people think of driving as a low-impact job, driving for many straight hours every day over many years can become physically taxing.
The average vehicle seat does not provide adequate lumbar support for the lower back. Years of slouching in a seat can lead to painful back issues. That could worsen or exacerbate existing issues related to manual lifting and loading as part of the job.
Truck drivers can also develop carpal tunnel or repetitive strain injuries in their arms and hands. Gripping the wheel and turning it over and over for eight or even 12 hours a day can cause muscle fatigue and joint soreness. Over time, carpal tunnel and other debilitating repetitive use injuries could potentially develop as well.
Truck drivers who find themselves suffering from back pain, joint pain or carpal tunnel should report these issues to their employer and seek medical care. In many cases, workers’ compensation will cover both lost wages and the medical care required to help correct or address the issues suffered by the commercial driver.