Many truck drivers in Georgia routinely crank landing gears and perform similar strenuous tasks. Unfortunately, raising or lowering trailers is also a repetitious and physically stressful process that can lead to painful shoulder injuries. Results from a recent joint study show that strategic positioning may help drivers reduce their risks of sustaining shoulder injuries.

Given the demands of most jobs in the trucking profession, it’s not unusual for truck drivers to file workers’ compensation claims related to injuries sustained while performing job-related tasks. In order to determine the safest cranking technique, researchers observed a dozen male drivers as they performed cranking-related operations. Specifically, they looked at several muscles that are involved in shoulder movements and measured the drivers’ scapular range of motion as they cranked.

Researchers concluded that when drivers are attempting to raise a trailer, the safest position is for them to stand parallel to their vehicle while cranking — what’s termed “sagittal cranking.” It’s a position that uses more full-body strength while taking some of the workload off the shoulder. When a trailer is being lowered, researchers determined that the safest position is for the driver to face the trailer and crank the handle while standing upright at a right angle (perpendicularly) to the crank rotation. Frontal cranking, however, results in more friction on ligaments, which is what contributes to wear-and-tear shoulder injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70,000 occupation-related shoulder injuries were reported in 2016.

Employers have a responsibility to provide proper training to truck drivers on how to safely perform routine operations like trailer cranking. If such training isn’t provided, this fact could make a workers’ compensation claim stronger should an injury occur. A lawyer may get involved with the workers’ comp process if a claim is unfairly denied by helping the client file an appeal.