Why is ergonomics important in the last mile?

Postal workers spend many hours a day in their car, jumping in and out of it hundreds of times. This means ergonomics has a huge impact on their health and efficiency when they are at work. By improving ergonomics, it can help you increase workflows, save time and money and last, but not least, safeguard your employees' health.

Why is ergonomics especially important for postal workers? 

Øyvind Henriksveen, Physiotherapist at NEMUS explains: “Ergonomics is important for all occupational groups. Postal workers are particularly vulnerable due to the repetitive nature of the tasks they perform and the amount of time spent in one position, which gives the body little opportunity for relief. It is not always easy to recognize the body’s signals when it is telling you that it’s time to stretch. As a postal worker, you need to keep mobile to avoid long-term injury due to being in the same position and doing the same movements throughout the day.”

physiotherapist talks about ergomonic benefits with paxster
Øyvind Henriksveen, Phyiotherapist at NEMUS

About to choose a new vehicle for your last-mile? You should ensure: 

  • the access for loading and unloading is smooth and easy (between 24″ and 62″ above the standing surface)
  • products are close – within 16″ from the driver
  • that there’s no climbing, bending, or stretching for the driver during delivery
  • the driver can easily jump in and out of the vehicle to save time and protect their health
  • the driver has optimal sitting comfort and adjustable seats

Ergonomic benefits of an open vehicle 

According to Henriksveen, an open vehicle is advantageous because you can reduce the strain on joints, muscles, and tissues that comes from too many repetitive and similar positions throughout the day, all of which can lead to injury in the long run. “An open vehicle doesn’t allow you to rest your arm on the window frame, which can feel comfortable there and then, but in the long term, can contribute to neck and shoulder problems”, he says. 

Happy driver from dhl driving paxster
Happy driver in her open vehicle at DHL

How switching to an open vehicle can reduce sick leave 

Posten Norge reduced sick leave by 15% when they switched to an open vehicle for their last-mile distribution. We asked the physiotherapist how that could happen: “Open vehicles reduce the likelihood of remaining in stationary positions for long and at the same time reduce many repetitive movements such as opening and closing the door. They allow you to work in a position where the body is strong, such as standing to lift packages and letters in front of them. Adjustable seats and sitting right back in the seat reduces unnecessary tension in the muscles and tissue to prevent pain in the lower back, neck, and shoulders.” 

“This is why I love my open vehicle”  

May-Britt Christiansen drives her Paxster every day to deliver post and parcels to residents. “The Paxster is the best vehicle we have ever had in Posten Norge”, she says. “It’s great for the cold Norwegian winter, easy to navigate, even in winter conditions and I love the heated handgrips.” May-Britt loves the fact that she can easily jump in and out and of the vehicle. “And I love that I can store post and parcels in the front”, she says.  

postie may britt loves her paxster
May-Britt Christiansen loves her open vehicle!

How to thrive in an open vehicle as a postie?

It’s all about focusing on the employee

When we developed Paxster, we worked closely with Posten Norge (Norway Post) to optimise their ergonomics with the employee in mind. The design of a Paxster is based on the user and the user’s needs. It should be easy to drive up to most mailboxes without getting out of the seat. In places where that is not possible, the driver can use narrow and retractable footrests. The high sitting position reduces the physical need to get in and out of the vehicle repeatedly during the workday. Since the introduction of open vehicles, Posten Norge has seen a reduction in both sick leave and delivery times.

4 ergonomic tips for postal workers from a physiotherapist: 

  1. Sit well on the seat, with a relaxed neck and arms resting, with your thumbs facing outwards
  2. Try to sit with your hips firmly in the seat
  3. If you need to lift, bend your legs and aim to get your knees over your toes. Try to keep your back straight and get your body behind what you are going to lift
  4. Remember to stretch lightly throughout the workday, you do not have to perform this many times to get the benefits