Australian Transport News
Delivering on driver health
The present situation would be intolerable in any modern industry
The present situation regarding driver health would be intolerable in any modern industry, states Melissa Weller
Results from the latest Driving Health Study from Monash University show us that truck driver health in Australia is poor, with drivers more likely to be overweight and be diagnosed with more chronic health conditions than the general population.
The survey of nearly 1,400 drivers found more than half to be categorised as obese, with more than a third reporting to have diagnosed back problems and high blood pressure.
The survey also found that nearly 20 per cent of respondents had been diagnosed with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety in the last year.
Of those who experienced a mental health condition, 38.2 per cent said their workplace caused it or made it worse.
These findings are unacceptable, so our industry must focus on solutions and ways to better support our workforce to be mentally and physically healthier.
Comprehensive accreditation standards like TruckSafe are already making a difference for accredited operators’ employees.
Our driver health and wellbeing standard is in place to ensure all drivers are fit and healthy, and that workplace health and safety requirements are being met.
It requires that accredited members’ drivers complete regular driver medical examinations, with drivers 50-years-old and over required to have a yearly medical. Additionally, TruckSafe-accredited operators are required to have driver health and a fitness for duty policies and practical procedures.
Our employees are our biggest asset. We must put looking after them first.
There are countless examples of how TruckSafe’s driver health and wellbeing standard has raised the bar for driver safety and delivered real outcomes for operators, as one of our members, Fellows Bulk Haulage, notes.
“I had a driver who was getting constant headaches. When he went in for his TruckSafe medical it was discovered he had sky-high blood pressure and we were able to take him off the road,” Fellows Bulk Haulage director Paul Fellows says.
Not only do these driver medicals ensure truck drivers are fit to drive and be safe on the road, they also play an enormous and key role in maintaining staff health and wellbeing generally – in each of these cases, they have saved lives.
Driver health isn’t only about physical wellbeing, it also encompasses mental health. As an industry, trucking has made great strides in improving mental health support and resources – most recently with the establishment of the Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds (HHTS) foundation.
With the support of industry and a strong national mental health and wellbeing strategy, HHTS aims to increase the number of people trained in mental health at transport and logistics facilities, standardise policies and regulation at these facilities, and help everyone in in the industry be healthier from a diet and mental health perspective.
On a more localised level, the ATA’s member associations are leading the way in improving driver health outcomes. The Queensland Trucking Association’s ‘Driving Better Health’ initiative is focused on promoting practical, small steps towards a substantial change in overall lifestyle choices of truck drivers.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Transport Association’s ‘HeadFit BusinessFit’ program is designed to create a positive workplace environment in employer companies by building workplace cultures, positive leadership, systems and process and individual support into transport and logistics organisations.
With the support of our peers, governments and the wider community, we can achieve our goal of making a truck driver’s workplace a safer and healthier space for all.
To find out more about TruckSafe or to join, head to www.trucksafe.com.au