The influence of work characteristics on the need for recovery and experienced health: a study on coach drivers.

  • Published: Ergonomics Vol 42, 1999
  • Authors: .K. Sluiter, A.J. Van Der Beek, and M.H.W. Frings-Dresen
  • Date Added: 05 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 05 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


The work has three objectives

1) To describe the work characteristics and job context of coach drivers in relation to occupationally induced fatigue.

2) To find out if high job demands and low job control are predictors of the perceived load at the end of the day.

3) To find out whether this perceived load and need for recovery are predictors of health complaints.


The research is based on a questionnaire sent to 750 Dutch coach drivers.

Key Findings:

  • Exposure to occupational risk factors has often been demonstrated to be related to adverse reactions of short or long term psychological strain.

  • These complaints have been reported most frequently when the psychological demands of the job are high and the worker’s decision latitude is low.

  • Signs of fatigue are mostly experienced during or after a day of work, which need not be a problem if enough time to recover is offered in between periods of work.

  • Therefore, time seems to be the crucial variable in recovery from occupationally exerted efforts.

  • Repeated insufficient recovery from work related fatigue however is seen as the take off of a vicious cycle requiring extra effort and accumulating fatigue which can ultimately lead to a breakdown in performance.

  • Previous studies on city bus drivers found that drivers have strong feelings of fatigue, tension and mental overload.

  • Occupationally induced fatigue was found to be a substantial problem in coach drivers, although it was found to be less of a personal problem.

  • Three out of four coach drivers felt that fatigue adversely affected their driving.

  • One third of drivers in the study reported mental overload as cause for their sense of being unable to make the next trip planned for them.

  • This corresponds to the fact that mental overload was reported as one of the main health problems of city bus drivers.

  • The reported influence of fatigue, problems of sleep quality and symptoms of emotional exhaustion, raises expectations of increased risk of RTIs and safety hazards for the coach drivers.

  • The sub-population of express coach drivers in this study averaged 93 working hours per week during the high season, and since driving during night hours is normal practice in the long distance trips that these drivers perform, the risk of RTIs for these drivers is considered to be fairly high.

  • Need for recovery proved to be a powerful predictor of experienced health complaints in coach drivers but further study is required to find out which work-rest ratios are optimal to prevent occupationally induced problems.


Bus/Coach driver fatigue, Recovery, Health Problems.


Dutch study but very relevant to the synthesis due to the focus on coach drivers.