Workplace accidents in Pennsylvania and around the country cause about 70,000 shoulder injuries each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many of those torn rotator cuffs, deltoid sprains and dislocations are suffered by commercial vehicle drivers. Truck drivers often injure their shoulders when they crank the handles that raise and lower trailers. This prompted North Carolina State University researchers and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry to look for a way to perform this task more safely.
When they observed 12 truck drivers turn cranking handles, the researchers noticed that the drivers who stood parallel to the handles used more of their body strength and suffered fewer injuries. This is known as sagittal cranking. Adopting a position facing the crank is called frontal cranking, and it places much more stress on the shoulder. Truck drivers who used the frontal technique were particularly vulnerable to injury when they raised trailers and had to cope with added resistance. The results of the study were published in the scientific journal Applied Ergonomics in October 2018.
Older drivers most at risk
Practicing proper cranking techniques becomes more important as truck drivers get older. In 2021, researchers from four American universities studied the case histories of 130 commercial vehicle drivers who reported shoulder injuries between 2007 and 2015. The researchers discovered that older drivers were more prone to all musculoskeletal disorders. They also noticed that 74% of the truck drivers who filed workers’ compensation claims after suffering rotator cuff tears were 46 years of age or older.
Proper cranking technique
Truck drivers who stand in front of the crank handle when they raise or lower trailers put more stress on their shoulder muscles and tendons and suffer cranking-related injuries more often. Standing parallel to cranking handles spreads the load and prevents injuries. Older truck drivers need to use proper cranking techniques as the risk of injury increases with age.