Truck

TOTAL WORKER HEALTH® TOOLKIT
Tech4Rest

Improving sleep, reducing fatigue, and impacting Total Worker Health for team truck drivers

Insufficient sleep is related to workplace safety, high risk for obesity, chronic disease, and early mortality. Truck driving teams, where one driver sleeps in a moving vehicle while the other partner drives, face especially challenging sleeping conditions.

The Tech4Rest study used the hierarchy of controls applied to Total Worker Health® to select and evaluate interventions to improve the sleep, health, and well-being of team truck drivers. This approach prioritized changing working conditions in the truck cab first and then supplementing those changes with a behavioral program.

Tech4Rest evaluated: 

  • Enhanced cab features include a therapeutic mattress system and an active suspension seat. 

  • An evidence-informed behavioral sleep and health program.

 

The Tech4Rest pilot study findings included:

  • The therapeutic mattress altered patterns in vibration exposures improved sleep compared to a coil spring mattress and were universally preferred by drivers.

  • Consistent with prior studies, the active suspension seat substantially reduced whole-body vibrations.

  • The combination of cab enhancements plus the behavioral sleep health program produced the largest improvements to driver sleep and fatigue.

 

Outcomes from a randomized controlled trial are forthcoming. See this two-page document for a summary of the benefits of active suspension seats for commercial drivers for reducing musculoskeletal symptoms and fatigue.

*The Tech4Rest page was last reviewed and updated in April 2021

 

“With the seat, what you guys provide, it's comfortable. It's a little more couching and you don't feel the truck vibration on jumping too much. You feel more comfortable. It's way better. It's definitely way better.”

 

-Quote from anonymous participant in the Tech4Rest study

Download the Seat
Technologies Two Pager

Click the download button to access our free download that talks about semi-active and active suspension seat technologies for commercial drivers.

The Science Behind Tech4Rest

The Tech4Rest program was developed based on previous effective interventions. Our previous research has demonstrated that industry-standard passive, air suspension seat has substantially higher whole-body vibration exposures relative to the active-suspension seat. This study also showed that higher levels of whole-body vibration exposures adversely affect the vigilance of truck drivers and contribute to cognitive fatigue.

The Tech4Rest Intervention study was a NIOSH-funded randomized controlled trial focusing on team truck drivers. The Tech4Rest study aimed to learn more about how team truck drivers manage their sleep and fatigue, and also evaluate technologies that may impact driver sleep and fatigue.

 

The Tech4Rest intervention was composed of:

  • An enhanced cab intervention that utilizes a therapeutic mattress system and an active suspension seat to alter whole-body vibrations during driving and sleep periods. 

  • A behavioral sleep intervention has been adapted from our effective SHIFT (Safety & Health Involvement For Truckers) program.

The Tech4Rest intervention was tested with team truck drivers around the United States. Outcomes from a randomized controlled trial are forthcoming. See this two-page document for a summary of the benefits of active suspension seats for commercial drivers for reducing musculoskeletal symptoms and fatigue.

The behavioral intervention is adapted from the SHIFT program which originally targeted weight loss among truck drivers. SHIFT is a 6-month group weight loss competition supported by weekly behavior and body weight logging, behavioral computer-based training (healthy weight loss, sleep, eating, and exercise), and individual motivational interviewing (up to 4 interviews). SHIFT has been established as effective in a cluster randomized controlled trial. The intervention produced a significant and medically meaningful mean difference of -1.0 BMI units between groups. The intervention also has a demonstrated track record of producing moderate-to-large improvements in driver physical activity (sleep protective), which is leveraged in the Tech4Rest adaptation to improve sleep.

 

Funding for Tech4Rest was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH; grant: U19OH010154).

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Scientific Publications 

Olson, R., Johnson, P., Shea, S., Marino, M., Rimby, J., Womack, K., Wang, F., Springer, R., Donovan, C., & Rice, S. (2020). Advancing the safety, health, and well-being of commercial driving teams who sleep in moving semi-trucks: The Tech4rest pilot study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62 (12), 1082-1096. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002063

References for Two-Pager on "Benefits Semi-Active and Active Seat Suspension Technologies for Commercial Drivers

CDCC. (2018). Long-Haul Truck Drivers. NIOSH: Workplace Safety and Health Topics.  

Kim JH, Zigman M, Aulck LS, Ibbotson JA, Dennerlein JT, Johnson PW. (2016). Whole Body Vibration Exposures and Health Status among Professional Truck Drivers: A Cross-sectional Analysis. Ann Occup Hyg, 936-48,  doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mew040.

Dennerlein JT, Cavallari JM, Kim JHJ, Green NH. (2022). The effects of a new seat suspension system on whole body vibration exposure and driver low back pain and disability: Results from a randomized controlled trial in truck drivers. Appl Ergon. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2021.103588.

Blood RP, Yost MG, Camp JE, Ching RP. (2011) Whole-body Vibration Exposure Intervention among Professional Bus and Truck Drivers: A Laboratory Evaluation of Seat-suspension Designs. J Occup Environ Hyg, 351-62. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2014.989357.

Heidarian, A., & Wang, X. (2019). Review on seat suspension system technology development. Applied Sciences, 9(14), 2834. doi:10.3390/app9142834.

Lewis CA, Johnson PW. Whole-body vibration exposure in metropolitan bus drivers. (2012) Occup Med (Lond). 2012 Oct;62(7):519-24. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqs096.

Johnson PW, Zigman M, Ibbotson J, Dennerlein JT, Kim JH. A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Truck Seat Intervention: Part 1-Assessment of Whole Body Vibration Exposures. (2018). Ann Work Expo Health. 2018 Oct 15;62(8):990-999. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxy062.

Johnson PW, Ibbotson-Brown J, Menocal S, Parison J. Comparison of Whole-Body Vibration Exposures When Operating a City Bus with an Active, Passive and Static Suspension Bus Seat. (2019). Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 1052-1056. doi:10.1177/1071181319631472.
 

Kim JH, Zigman M, Dennerlein JT, Johnson PW. A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Truck Seat Intervention: Part 2-Associations Between Whole-Body Vibration Exposures and Health Outcomes. (2018). Ann Work Expo Health, 1000-1011. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxy063.

Wang, F., Hugh, D., Du, B., & Johnson, P. W. (2018). Exploring the Association between Truck Driver Fatigue and Exposure to Whole Body Vibration. In Proceedings of the 7th American Conference on Human Vibration, 64-65.

 

Northwest Center for Occupational Safety and Health. (2016). Reducing Whole Body Vibrations to Improve the Safety and Healthy of Bus Drivers.  University of Washington NW Center for Occupational Safety and Health Blog.