Retaining an experienced team of drivers is complicated business and there isn’t any one solution that a fleet can implement that will change that dynamic. There are multiple interconnected components of any fleet’s driver retention effort, not the least of those being promoting a working environment that prioritizes drivers’ health, safety and wellbeing. We consulted with an ergonomics expert on some simple practices that any delivery fleet can and should implement fairly quickly.
1. A focused mindset
“We like to say with drivers, eyes on task, mind on task,” says physical therapist Renee Anderson of Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions (Atlas IPS). That means understanding and focusing on the task at hand and getting rid of distractions. “Awareness is important,” Anderson adds.
2. Proper gear
This one should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many drivers aren’t equipped with the requisite accessories to prevent injury or muscle strain. The basics include things like slip-resistant boots, safety gloves and safety vests.
3. Proper seat fit
“We highly recommend that [drivers] understand how to adjust the seat for your specific body type and if you don’t know how, you can get professional help on how,” Anderson says.
The key considerations for seating include sufficient back support to keep the driver’s spine in a neutral position to avoid unnecessary stress or vibration, as well as proper cushioning. Some seats, she notes, have an oscillator feature that helps minimize vibration and reduce the impact that bumps in the road have on the driver.
“Obviously, you’re going to be positioning the seat so that you’re at a comfortable range to grab the steering wheel and brake, and have good view of mirrors to see everything around you from a safety perspective,” Anderson notes.
4. Three points of contact on ingress and egress
When a driver’s entering and exiting the cab, they should always make sure three of their four limbs (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand) are in contact with the vehicle. “It can help the driver resist slips and falls,” Anderson points out. “It gives [the driver] a more stable position and more power.”
5. Know the “pinch points”
If your drivers are working with liftgates, proper operation includes being aware of all the pinch points — places where their fingers could get caught.
6. Key body mechanics
When lifting cases, the delivery team should adopt an athletic, wide or staggered stance so they can take on forces more easily.
“We talk about being ‘in the power zone’ — holding things close to your body between your shoulders and thighs is the power zone,” Anderson says. “We always say, ‘keep it close, work in your power zone, you’re going to most effective there and less likely to have a shoulder injury.”
Bracing one’s core is another technique Atlas IPS promotes. Anderson uses the soft drink can analogy.
“A full can of soda is hard to squeeze, but if it’s empty, there’s not as much strength,” she explains. “If you’re bracing your core and creating that pressure in your core, you’re stronger.”
7. Regular stretching and moving
Drivers should move and/or stretch pectoral, forearm, leg, hamstring, neck, back and hip flexor muscles frequently.
“Even when they’re at a stop,” Anderson says, “just a little extra walking around can help as well, if they’ve been sitting a long time.”
8. Know your limits
This can’t be stressed enough. “If it’s too heavy or awkward [to lift],” Anderson advises, “know your limits and when to go get help.”