Health and Safety Hazards for City Bus Drivers

  • Published: MFL Occupational Health Centre, 1998
  • Authors: MFL Occupational Health Centre
  • Date Added: 05 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 04 Jul 2014

Objectives: To summarise some of the health and safety issues facing bus drivers and provide some solutions to how these risks can be reduced.

Methodology: Literature review of existing work.

Key Findings:

  • Dozens of studies conducted over the last four decades in cities on almost every continent show that bus drivers, when compared to workers in other jobs, are more likely to experience:

    • Death from heart and blood vessel disease;
    • Heart and blood vessel-related conditions such as chest pain and high blood pressure;
    • Digestive disorders; and
    • Musculoskeletal problems, especially of the back, neck and shoulders.
  • Bus drivers frequently report tension, mental overload, fatigue and sleeping problems.

  • Bus drivers also have more frequent absences from work and of longer duration than workers in other occupations. A large proportion of the work absences are attributable to stress-related disorders such as digestive problems and anxiety.

  • Stress is believed to play a significant role in causing two of the diseases (heart and blood vessel disease and digestive disorders) found in excess in bus drivers.

  • Typically, stressful jobs are those which have high psychological demands and little decision-making control, in combination with low social support on the job.

  • Bus driving interferes with social support in two ways. The job itself is solitary with little chance for face-to-face contact between co-workers. The work schedule disrupts family and social life.

  • How buses are designed and how work is scheduled may account for musculoskeletal problems associated with driving a bus.

  • Research supports a number of measures to reduce work hazards for bus drivers. Measures include:

    • Reduce traffic congestion (bus lanes, signal priority);
    • Reduce passenger inquiries (automated information systems);
    • Enhance driver security (alarm systems, emergency procedures);
    • Reduce social isolation on the job (schedule breaks in central locations);
    • Reduce fatigue and interference with personal life (improve work schedules);
    • Improve social aspects of work (supportive style of leadership); and
    • Improve ergonomic design of buses (seat design, steering wheel design).

Themes:

Bus driver health.

Comments:

Although from theUS and a slightly older source of data, the topics discussed are still very relevant toUK bus drivers.

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