The Hazards of the Being a School Bus Driver

Hearing Loss & Worker’s Compensation

“Hail to the Bus Driver
bus driver, bus driver
Hail to the Bus Driver
bus driver man”

Most people know one version or other of this 50-year old tune. But the much-maligned “Bus Driver Man (or Woman)” is at greater risk of slipping in the snack-wrapper laden aisle of his or her bus, than of “stinking up” the bus.

In addition to motor vehicle accidents, which account for about one-third of bus driver injuries, OSHA reports that the most common school bus driver workers’ compensation claims involve slips, trips, and falls. Cluttered aisles, slippery walks, and falls up or down the bus stairs all lead to a variety of driver injuries.

Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal injury claim among bus drivers, mainly related to the long periods of sitting, strong engine vibrations, and from lifting and maneuvering students with disabilities. Setting and releasing school bus parking brakes can cause sore or seriously injured right shoulders, elbows, or wrists. This is because the parking brakes on most buses require an extended reach and a high push/pull force to operate. Drivers must repeat this action with each pickup and drop off.

Like on-site school staff, bus drivers are also at risk for workplace violence and threats. A U.S. Bureau of Justice survey found that more than 100,000 school bus drivers were victims of workplace violence over the 6-year period of 1993-1999. While some school districts can afford to pay support staff to ride bus during routine morning and afternoon routes, most school bus drivers are alone with students during regular routes. OSHA suggests that these drivers have a communication system in place and request installation of cameras on buses.

Reporting Injuries & Threats

The method for reporting work-related injuries and threats depends on where a bus driver is employed. Many are employed by school districts that own their own fleet of buses; others are employed by bus companies contracted to a district. No matter whether a driver works for a district or a contractor, he or she needs to know how and where to report any injury or incident experienced on the job.

To obtain maximum workers’ compensation benefits, always contact your attorney at Styka & Styka immediately following a work-related injury at (312) 357-8000.

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