Healthy Workplaces within the Transportation Industry
Our first series of Occupational Health articles focused on the importance of integrating Employee Wellness with Occupational Health Strategies. This week’s article focuses on the health issues within the trucking industry and how organizations can support their workers. There are over 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States who are required to pass a Department of Transportation(DOT) Exam. The total number of people employed in the industry including those in positions that do not entail driving exceeds 8.7 million.1
7 in 10 long-haul truck drivers are obese and the half of them are current cigarette smokers. In addition, truck drivers are twice as likely as other workers to report diabetes. These health problems can affect a driver’s ability to drive safely which means he or she may not qualify for a commercial driver’s license (CDL).2 These results are not surprising considering truck drivers’ work environments. Many consistently work 70 hours a week and 11 hours a day.3
Challenges that Truck Drivers are Facing
Being on the road for all this time brings up a lot of different challenges, including the following:
- Physical Challenges:
- Sitting most of the day can lead to musculoskeletal pain
- Eye strain from being constantly in motion, focusing and refocusing
- Finding healthy food at the rest stops and to exercise while being on the road
- Mental and Emotional Challenges:
- Handling an irregular schedule with long working hours
- Stressful situations like time pressure to get cargo delivered or being stuck in traffic
- Staying focused can be tough and hard for the brain
- Social Challenges:
- Irregular schedule makes it hard to keep a balanced social life
- Socioeconomic Challenges:
- Economic issues since many fleets offer only High Deductible Plans
- High Turnover Rate – Driver Shortage
- 70% of drivers do not have a primary care relationship
No wonder this hard to reach population is called to be one of the unhealthiest in the US. Read more from Stewart Levy, CEO of HealthWell Solutions on safety, barriers and solutions to support trucking fleets and improve driver`s health.
What can Drivers do for their own Health?
What can Organizations do to support their drivers and promote employee wellness?
- Telemedicine mobile apps and clinics – access to care
- Health Coaching – (Telephonic) – support drivers on the road
- Create Incentives with a Reward System to promote healthy drivers
- Team competition and testimonials for peer influence to promote healthy behaviors
- Biometric Screenings and Health Risk Asssessments to help drivers pass their DOT exams (read more on our recent article On Road to Good Health)
- Back to Work Programs and Case Managers – improve outcomes
What can Drivers do for their own Health?
One of the key strategies to promote employee wellness and healthy decisions is Health Coaching. It has been demonstrated as a proven tool to change behavior through improved self-awareness.4
The that can help employees on the way to a healthier life:
- Step: Self-Awareness
To improve your health, you must take notice of the decisions you are making and understand what is influencing them.
- Step: Educate Yourself
To make healthy decisions, you need to understand what that means. Check out the DrivingHealthy Resources.
- Step: Take Actions
Now it’s time to create an action plan! Set your own reachable goals, track your progress and sustain your success by monitoring it.
HealthWell Solutions is a health management company that provides customized corporate health and wellness solutions to drive successful health outcomes. Learn more and contact us today:http://healthwellcorp.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) AllTrucking. Truck Drivers in the USA. http://www.alltrucking.com/faq/truck-drivers-in-the-usa/ (accessed November 16, 2017).
(2) NIOSH. LONG-HAUL TRUCK DRIVERS: Health. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/truck/health.html (accessed November 13, 2017).
(3) Transporation.gov. New Hours-of-Service Safety Regulations to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue Begin Today. https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/new-hours-service-safety-regulations-reduce-truck-driver-fatigue-begin-today.
(4) Springer, B.; Petrancosta, B. Wellness Coaches USA and Con-way Freight Design Effective Wellness Program to Improve Health, Wellness, and Safety of all Conway Employees; Maryland, 2010.