Watch your back: Effects of operating heavy construction equipment and how to minimize them.
Prolonged driving and operation of heavy construction equipment is common in construction workers as the nature of their work demands so. Sitting for long periods does not seem too bad since people in offices do the same. It is, however, different from sitting in a vibrating vehicle as it can actually inflict a number of injuries on the body. It is vital that construction drivers keep abreast of the risks involved with their work. Below are some of the effects of prolonged heavy machinery usage and ways to remedy them.
Musculoskeletal injuries--When it comes to posture and the state of the bones, muscles and ligaments, sitting in the same position for long periods of time while driving makes the body slouch in to a C-shaped posture that rolls up the pelvis and puts pressure on the ligaments. This also increases the strain between the intervertebral disks, creating pain and discomfort to the driver.
Due to the nature of heavy construction work such as using a truck, bulldozer or crane to move around heavy objects, whole body vibrations consistent with exposure to the equipment produce systemic effects on the whole body. Although it may progress slowly, it eventually develops into an injury or disease such as hand-arm vibration syndrome which is caused by changes in tendons, muscles and joints, eventually affecting the nervous system.
Furthermore, poor seat design, static sitting and repetitive arm movements are also factors that cause lower back pain, disorders in then gastrointestinal system and urogenital system, especially in women.
Changing the seat design to remedy effects—changing the seat design, or replacing with ISRI seats that have an ergonomic design, helps evenly distribute body weight, improving posture and spine alignment while seated for prolonged periods of time. It also reduces the chance of experiencing pain and/or numbness associated with prolonged sitting as they have lateral support and adjustable features to cater for any prolonged movements.
Adding cushions made of memory foam, can help reduce pressure placed on the tailbone and lower back. The design improves circulation to the legs and adjusts posture well enough to reduce strain on your spine while distributing body weight evenly.
Health insurance—in addition to changing workplace situations, health insurance is a safe bet. Since non-union workers are not usually provided with health insurance, they should consider picking out an affordable health plan to cover them in the event of work related injuries as musculoskeletal injuries can cause long term harm and endanger working capabilities in a person.