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UNB study to address the physical demands of driving

Author: Communications

Posted on Sep 1, 2011

Category: myUNB , UNB Fredericton

UNB researchers, Wayne Albert and Usha Kuruganti, hope to make the City of Fredericton’s Transit Division bus drivers’ jobs a little less stressful. Canadians working in the transport industry are more prone to injuries than most other industries in Canada except, manufacturing, construction and fishing. Dr. Albert’s team, in partnership with the City of Fredericton’s Transit Division, recently completed a study to determine the occupational demands of driving and the physical demands on bus drivers in terms of body posture and muscle activation. Dr. Albert says specific tasks required increases in muscular activity, especially in neck and upper back. “Even in the one hour of work we monitored, we noticed significant repositioning suggesting a need to change the muscle demand,” said Dr. Albert. “Like most transport occupations, these drivers are driving for long hours each day and the increase in muscle activity over the course of a day, week, month could increase the risk of musculoskeletal and soft tissue strains.” The research findings will be used as a baseline for a number of future studies to address the physical demands placed on city bus drivers. “Working with the university on this project has been completely positive, in that we have received valuable information on the physical demands our operators must meet every day,” said Sandy MacNeil, manager of the City of Fredericton’s Transit Division. “The study’s results also identified areas of interest for future research opportunities and we look forward to continuing our relationship with UNB’s Faculty of Kinesiology in the future.” The study, which could be applicable to other driving occupations, included 14 drivers driving the same rush-hour route in Fredericton. Specifically, the study looked at seat posture and pressure using a seat pressure pad and monitored muscular activity in the neck, shoulders and back. Each driver was videotaped to determine upper body driving posture and a health and lifestyle questionnaire were completed. This research initiative was the first of its kind in the city and was undertaken by the City of Fredericton’s Transit Division and the Occupational Biomechanics and Ergonomic Research Group—a research team led by Dr. Albert who is also the dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology at UNB and Dr. Kuruganti an associate professor with the faculty. For more information, contact Dr. Albert at walbert@unb.ca, or 453-4576.