Introduction

The transportation industry is a sector that has been researched extensively over the years to improve safety, but little focus has been placed on ergonomics and the ability to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). A literature review reveals studies focusing on seatbelt use, fatigue, cognition, psychosocial factors, drugs and alcohol, and work scheduling. The majority of these studies focus on safety, both for the drivers and for others on the road.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has recently published data on the frequency of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that occurred in 2007. Figure 1, taken from this release, illustrates the top 12 industries with respect to MSDs based on total number of incidents and MSD incidence rate. The top five job categories on the list involve tasks with heavy material-handling activities. Number six on the list (based on incidence rate), heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers, has the third highest number of MSDs. This high frequency and incidence rate should clearly place ergonomics as a major concern for the transportation industry.

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