bus driver survey

RMT publishes bus driver survey

A new survey of bus drivers, led by RMT union and Pailton Engineering, provides fresh data on the challenges faced by bus drivers. At a time when driver shortages are growing, the data adds weight to the argument that improved working conditions are long overdue in a profession where work-induced pain and injury are all too common.

The survey gathered data from nearly 400 RMT members who were bus and coach drivers across the UK. The results show the challenges faced by drivers are arguably even greater than many would have anticipated. Over three quarters of respondents said their work caused them musculoskeletal complaints such as back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain.

Nearly one quarter (23 per cent), had taken time off in the previous year due to back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain. The survey also revealed more about how drivers felt about their profession and their treatment compared to office workers. An astonishing 95 per cent of drivers felt they did not get the same consideration as office workers when it came to workplace ergonomic adjustments, yet 97 per cent felt they ought to be treated the same.

Although the headlines taken from the survey may be negative, the data also pointed to improved ergonomics as a possible solution to poor working conditions. 94 per cent of respondents felt their working conditions could be improved through the introduction of more adjustable seating, steering columns or driver dashboards. Over 95 per cent felt the driver cabin could be designed in a more ergonomic way to reduce the risks of pain and discomfort.

“These results are deeply concerning and underline the need for strong trade unions in the workplace, pushing employers to make the changes workers need,’’ said Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary. ‘‘It is unacceptable that bus workers are having to take time off for injuries sustained at work when there is technology available that can easily assist them ergonomically. 

The initiative behind the survey came from Pailton Engineering, a company that designs and manufactures steering parts for the bus and coach sector. ‘‘Bus drivers and the problems they face often go under the radar,’’ explained Roger Brereton, Head of Sales at Pailton Engineering. ‘‘We wanted to produce some up-to-date data on this issue to stimulate debate about driver working conditions and were delighted when RMT agreed to help us.’’

Although the data is discouraging in many respects, Roger believes it also shows the way forward. ‘‘Improved ergonomics will mean improved working conditions for drivers. If an office worker needs a workplace adjustment they can get it, so why not bus drivers too?’’

Pailton are hoping that their engineering solutions can make a positive difference. ‘‘Our engineers have been working on solutions to these problems. We recently launched our tilting head steering column in the new range of VDL Citea buses, and we are hoping to unveil a new prototype for an electric steering column at Busworld in Brussels later this year.’’

Pailton Engineering designs and manufactures custom steering parts for the bus and coach sector. Find out more about our ergonomic steering systems on our product page.