Taking A Look At Your Car Ergonomics











I was inspired to write this short blog post after some recent enquiries about car vehicle ergonomics.  As an osteopath we are often dealing with people who are suffering from a range of musculoskeletal complaints and often sitting and work postures play a large role in aggravating or maintaining their symptoms.   At Corporate Work Health Australia we regularly carry out car ergonomic risk assessments and education seminars to increase individuals awareness of the importance of setting their vehicle up to best suit their needs.  Below are some key tips that we pass onto all drivers when carrying out risk assessments and preventative training.



Quick tips for setting yourself up in a vehicle


Seat height: Raise the seat as high as is comfortable to improve your vision of the road.

Pedals: Move the seat forwards until you can easily fully depress the clutch pedal and the accelerator pedal. Fine tune the seat height again if required.

Seat base: Adjust base tilt angle so that the thighs are supported along the length of the cushion (avoid pressure behind the knee).

Seat backrest: Adjust the backrest so it provides continuous support along the length of the back and is in contact up to shoulder height.

Back support: Adjust the lumbar support to give even and comfortable pressure along the length of the backrest.

Steering wheel: Adjust the steering wheel rearwards and downwards for easy reach (check for clearance with thighs and knees when using pedals and ensure display panel is in full view and not obstructed).

Head restraint: Adjust the head restraint to ensure the risk of injury is reduced in the event of a car accident.

Mirrors: Adjust the rear view and side mirrors ensuring that they can be used without excessive straining of the neck or upper body.

Repeat 1-8 and fine tune as necessary


Other considerations


  • Is the seat belt comfortable? Is a strap cushion required?
  • Do you have adequate head and leg room in the vehicle?
  • Are there blind spot or other safety issues for you in this vehicle?
  • Can you enter and exit the car safely and easily?
  • Are items required such as drink bottles, paperwork or sat navs positioned in an accessible position?
  • Are there issues with loading and unloading items from the vehicle?


What Else Should You Do?

  • Be sure to remove all items from your pockets prior to getting into the car.  Wallets, keys and other items may cause you to sit in an awkward posture.
  • Position items that you may need during your drive in an appropriate position that wont impact on you safely driving the car or force you to adopt awkward reaching or twisting postures.
  • Break at least every 2 hours and more frequently if you suffer from any specific musculoskeletal complaints.
  • If you are required to work in your car when it is stationary, get out of the drivers side and move to the passenger side.  The additional space will allow you to adopt a more comfortable working position.  If working within the car when it is stationary, limit laptop or Ipad use to 30 minutes where possible to avoid prolonged static awkward postures.
  • When manual handling items in and out of the car, be sure to place items in the boot near the back to reduce bending and twisting of the spine.  Avoid placing items in the back seat where possible as these items are not secure and require you to adopt awkward reaching and bending postures.


For those individuals looking to find out a little more about setting yourself up in the car, please click here to read the “Vehicle Ergonomics: Best Practical Guide”.


This blog was written by Osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia.

If you would like to find out how to arrange a vehicle ergonomic risk assessment or arrange for one of our trainers to deliver a practical vehicle ergonomic sit safe seminar for your workforce, please contact us at 1300 951 519 or email admin@corporateworkhealth.com.  



Principle Four Osteopathy

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced osteopaths working across both of the clinics.

The Melbourne City CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

The Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

To speak to an Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.



Vehicle Ergonomics: Best Practice Guide 2007. Highways Agency, UK. http://www.highways.gov.uk

Regan, MA: New technologies in cars: Human Factors and Safety Issues. Ergonomics Australia. Vol 18, Number 3, September 2004. http://www.ergonomics.org.au

Scott P, Kogi K, McPhee B. Ergonomic guidelines. For occupational health practice in industrially developing countries. International Ergonomics Association and International Commission on Occupational Health, 2010. Available from: http://www.ergonomics.org.au/resource_library/ergonomicguidelines.aspx