Commercial driver wellness is important to all road users
Driver wellness has been identified as an essential aspect of occupational safety and health for commercial
drivers. Too many drivers and managers are unaware of the correlation between mental and physical health and driver performance.
Drivers typically have to deal with psychological stress and ergonomic tension on the road. These include: exposure to acoustic noise and fumes, whole body vibration and poor cabin air quality. They could also be exposed to hazardous chemicals during transfer, or after spillages.
In addition, many often lead sedentary lifestyles, lack good food choices and experience fatigue. Attending to these areas – through education, training, wellness programmes and the assessment of drivers’ medical fitness – has multiple benefits including lower healthcare costs, better productivity and fewer accidents and fatalities.
Common personal health risks include: being overweight, being physically unfit, smoking and tobacco use, hypertension, type II diabetes and sleep apnoea.
This unique combination of lifestyle challenges and occupational risks makes company driver wellness programmes essential to prevent accidents on the road.
Long-distance haulier companies should establish health and wellness programmes which include the elements most relevant to the needs of drivers. It is important that staff throughout the company are made aware of the importance of such programmes.
Specific health issues should be targeted and there should be appropriate intervention programmes. These could include: nutrition, weight management and smoking cessation programmes.
Companies should recognise that experienced drivers may be their greatest asset and the cornerstone of their company. Having healthier drivers means increased safety, improved morale, lower driver turnover and reduced medical costs – benefiting both the individual and the company.