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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Henry Beasley



Brothers and Sisters,

I’m writing the email/post, due to on-going problems associated with workman’s compensation and the injuries associated with the 3000 series busses.

When we are injured on the job due to the 3000 series busses, we are consistently being denied even the simplest of workmen’s compensation claims.  Some of those injuries include:  back, shoulder, wrist and elbow, neck and trapezius, knees and ankles.  The question is, why is it that we are doing the exact same job but without the rash amount of injuries with the New Flyer fleet that we have since 1997 to 2012?  The simple answer is the Gillig 3000 series busses are “un-ergonomic”.

OBVIOUS PROBLEMS:  Kneeler and ramp control location and doorknob.

NON-OBVIOUS PROBLEMS:  Steering column, seat and movable peddles and air brake.

Before I continue, I know I will hear that these things were solved in the 3400-3500 series busses due to the recommendations of the Bus Buy Committee; the obvious answer is the 30-33 series are not solved with any consistent retro-fitting. The problems are still there.

The obvious problems:  The kneeler, I believe comes down to body positioning while your kneeling the bus (which we have been instructed to repetitively use through our continual training) or using the ramp controls to assist our ADA population.  While doing either you have to literally bend to the point where you literally can touch your toes while operating the equipment.  In training you are instructed to cover the brakes while using these controls, while over extending to the point of causing issues with the lower lumbar spine, and right shoulder.  The doorknob is an obvious issue because it is smaller (about 3 inches or half the size of an ink pen) than the ones from the New Flyer (which is about 6 inches or a full ink pen).  The smaller doorknob is hard to turn and is repetitively used while operating a bus, possibly causing pain in the hand and wrist areas that can lead to carpal tunnel injuries.

The non-obvious problems:  One of the major issues that have not 
been addressed is the adjustable steering wheel column. This column adjusts comfortably for an operator who is about 5’2 in height, but is a serious issue for those over 5’6, unlike the New Flyers (which can adjust for comfort into the 6’ foot range of operators) the Gilligs only adjust slightly. While operating the bus an operator is forced to hunch over to make turns, or pull into stops to over compensate for flaws in the equipment.  During training, operators are instructed to make turns at 5 miles an hour while scanning (to compensate for the added vision barriers) in an exaggerated way, while hunched over the wheel.  This repetitive motion places severe stress on the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral parts of the spine.  The shoulders are also effected due to the overhand style of turning the wheel (during my initial training, this style was called “palming the wheel” and we were instructed not to do it due to the impact on the shoulders).  The seats (there are 3 types) all are not flat but shaped in a way that have hard ridges (or an example a toilet seat).  The first one introduced was made out of leather which has a higher ridge under the tail bone (coccyx) which is problematic when the busses “bottom out” (which these Gilligs do often) causing repeated injury.  The other 2 have the same problem as well, they are not flat and the middle part of the seats ware down from body heat while the ridge remains firm, thus the feel of sitting on a toilet seat.  While operating in all these seats operators experience injuries to their right hip (os coxa) and that’s due to the repetitive motion of moving back and forth between the brake and the accelerator, grinding the hip on the hard ridge.  The adjustable peddles were rolled out to be an ergonomic solution to the height problems on busses, but in the Gilligs case it is more problematic due to the height issues.  The adjustable peddles places the hips in a non-parallel position and increases stress with the seats.  The adjustable peddles sits at a 55 degree angle on the Gillig while the New Flyers sat somewhere at 45 degrees.  This higher position could lead to a repetitive motion injuries associated with sprains, instability or ligament injuries; add this to the seats and you could end up having ankle, hip, knee and lower lumbar spine injuries.  The last, but not in the least is the air brake and its location.  On the New Flyers, there are located near the bottom of the left corner of the operators seat; contrast that with the Gillig models which are located on the operators left side panel  located by the operator waist line (or slightly above depending on height).  On these Gillig busses they are hard to pull up and set the brake, and have the potential to immediately cause and number of injuries associated from the hand to the shoulder.  Since the location is above the waist the operator has to torque their left arm in an awkward position to set the brake, which could lead to Rotator cuff tendonitis which is a usually dull, aching shoulder pain that can't be tied to one location. It often radiates into the trapezius, the upper arm down toward the chest. The pain is often worse at night and may interfere with sleep. Tennis elbow Pain is in the outer side of the elbow and in some cases, this painful area extends down to the forearm and wrist or the opposite side called Golfer's elbow.  There have been no modifications in the 3000-3500 series busses to solve this immediate issue.

The steps you need to take if you are injured: 1. let dispatch know (with details). 2. Request another bus if the pain is persistent. 3. Fill an injury report (with details).  4. See a physician and if necessary get an ADA accommodation from them (I heard a rash of requests lately) for our employer.

Most of all inform your union, it’s their job to represent the members in this union.  As I’ve said for a long time now, “NO STATS NO CASE.” If the stats warrant an OSHA investigation then your union needs as much data as possible (https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/handling.html , https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html ) to start the process.

The reason for this email/ post was another member was injured in one of these busses and reported it and filled for workmen’s compensation, of which they were denied; so they got an attorney to look into their denial.  They received information from the company concerning the job requirements/ job analysis which is clearly out dated (see attached).  The information was originally done in August 28, 2008 and an update in April 2011, before we switched to the Gillig models in 2012.  So if you were denied and wondered why, well here it is; all based on outdated information.  

So if you’ve been denied an injury claim from operating the 3000 series Gillig busses, you might want to look up an attorney and have them look into your claim.

Henry Beasley
Your brother on the front lines
UNION STRONG

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