Australian Transport News

Delivering on driver health

The present situation would be intolerabl­e in any modern industry

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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

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WELLER is the ATA safety, health and wellbeing director
MELISSA WELLER is the ATA safety, health and wellbeing director

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