Research Papers

Musculoskeletal disorders among Canadian truck drivers: Results from an intercept study

Version 1
Date added June 28, 2017
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Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 7B
Author/Auteur Philip Bigelow
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)



"Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are inflammatory and degenerative disorders of muscles, tendons, ligament joints, as well as nerve and blood vessels caused or aggravated by work-related activities. Among truck drivers, the onset of WMSDs is multifactorial, with prevalence rates ranging from 53% to 91% (depending on region) and accounting for roughly one-half of all work-related illness claims submitted for compensation. Although studies have explored and reported on common risk factors associated with WMSDs including, but not limited to, prolonged sitting, whole body vibration, and physical workload, few studies have been conducted in the Canadian context. WMSDs, in addition to causing pain, are associated with time lost, work disability and poor quality of life of truck drivers. These issues contribute to the shortage of truck drivers in Canada. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and predictors of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among a sample of long- haul Canadian truck drivers. A questionnaire, which obtained information on demographics, organizational factors, worker perceptions of the nature of job, and MSD complaints was developed using stakeholder and truck driver input. Truck drivers were recruited at two truck stops along major highways in Ontario. A newly created index of musculoskeletal disorders was used as the dependent variable. Linear regression models with each of the predictor variables significant at the p ≤0.2 level were included in final multiple linear regression models. Of the 107 participating truck drivers (age range 23 to 67 years, mean 50.5), 61 (57%) experienced a WMSD in the last 30 days prior to survey administration. Regions affected included shoulders, wrists/hands, upper and lower back, as well as legs/feet.

Six workplace safety climate variables, three variables assessing level of risk in job, driving route, work energy and drain, marital status, and education were significantly associated with WMSD complaint in univariate analyses.

After adjusting for significant variables in multivariate analyses, the model explaining most variance found that less control over safety on the job, whole body vibration from driving, work drain, being either single or divorced/separated, and lower degrees of education contributed significantly to WMSD among truck drivers. Relationship between whole body vibration, work drain, and WMSDs is supported by other studies while driving duration surprisingly did not emerge as significant. This is likely due to stricter policies mandating safety training and regulating hours on duty. Level of control over safety practices decreased WMSD risk, suggesting that improving workplace safety climate could mediate musculoskeletal risk. The mechanism underlying the relationship is unclear however, research has shown that trust, autonomy, and reciprocity in the workplace contribute to positive health outcomes. Musculoskeletal disorders are a major issue for truck drivers and a number of modifiable risk factors were identified in this study. Intervention studies that improve physical conditions and work organization factors can reduce the burden of WMSDs in truck drivers. "

Philip Bigelow