207862 New York City taxis: Worker input as a tool to assess vehicle design and driver health

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:10 AM

Rebecca L. Reindel, MFS, MPH , School of Public Health & Health Services, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC
Sarah Schrauben , College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Objective: The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) represents 40,000 taxi drivers, but lacks sufficient occupational health resources to protect its drivers. Most adverse health effects are not well documented among this workforce, especially as they relate to specific vehicle components drivers use every day. The purpose of this project was to examine any associations between the design of New York City taxi vehicles and driver health. Methods: An interviewer administered survey was developed based on input from drivers, experts in the field, and previous collaborators with NYTWA. Surveys were conducted using a convenience sample of drivers approached in airport waiting lots, during shift changes at gas stations, and the NYTWA office. Results: 206 drivers were interviewed over a 9 day period. As expected, seat comfort and adjustability (30.1%) and partition positioning (29.1%) were of major concern among drivers. Other problematic components included safety of new technologies and job related health factors. Approximately half (45.3%) of drivers lacked health insurance. Common locations of pain were along the back: cervical (57.4%), thoracic (50.8%), and lumbar (76.3%). When the back-thigh angle was <110°, 73.4% reported LBP, and if > 110°, none reported LBP. Most (87.2%) drivers reported being very or somewhat stressed. Conclusions: Many of the concerns identified by drivers could be addressed if taxis were designed as taxis from the manufacturing stage of vehicle design. The current practice of the after market taxi “hack up” is not adequate for keeping driver health as a focal point of public taxi service.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the challenges of occupational health from a union perspective. 2. Identify descriptive information specific to this population of taxi drivers. 3. Describe the process of developing, piloting, and delivering a field based questionnaire.

Keywords: Occupational Health, Community Participation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This research was conducted under the auspices of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. This research is a product of an internship program of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics and was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.