Work and Health Research Centre
Driving out pain for motorists (Bupa Foundation)
Dr Diane Gyi
Professor Cheryl Haslam
Professor Mark Porter
Mental Health Foundation
Researchers at Loughborough University are hoping to put an end to the back pain endured by thousands of motorists who drive as part of their job.
Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common form of work-related ill health in the UK, with an annual cost of more than £200 million - and employees who drive more than 20 hours a week are at particular risk.
Academics in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences have been awarded almost £200,000 by the BUPA Foundation to enable them to examine the effects of driving on people's health. The research will involve the development of a driving ergonomics tool, which it is hoped will help businesses manage the risks posed by driving to employees.
Driving itself enforces a constrained posture, but in addition the car is increasingly being used as a mobile workplace with associated health risks. Research at Loughborough University has shown that prevention strategies that are tailored to the drivers' needs are much more effective in terms of changing behaviour and improving health. The tool we will develop has the potential to encourage employers to invest in health, leading to improvements in the short, medium and long term health outcomes of employees and enhancing organisational performance.
For the project the University will work closely with drivers and other key players, such as occupational health nurses, physicians, safety managers and advisors, from three large organisations. They will use questionnaires, interviews and hands on evaluations to draw up tailored advice on how motorists can try and avoid developing musculoskeletal disorders in the future.
This advice will then be developed into a special tool, freely available on a website, which will guide company policy and decision making for the occupational health management of driving workforces in the UK.