Drivers Exiting Industry Due to Poor Health
As new drivers enter the trucking industry, the dilemma of losing existing truckers remains unresolved. It is not another company charming the drivers away from the current employment. It can be smaller things that accumulate in time, for example: not making enough money, problems with supervisors and management, not having enough time to spend at home with family, or no opportunities to advance. These issues become a big pile and finally push capable, professional drivers out the door.
Lately the main reason drivers give for leaving the trucking industry is poor health.
According to the survey by HireRight (an employee background-check firm), truck drivers in the U.S. are quitting their jobs due to health issues, one of the top reasons, in addition to low pay in what they might see as a dead end position with no chance for real growth, and the need to spend more time at home.
“Driving is a physically demanding profession, and getting proper rest, eating right and maintaining an exercise routine is a challenge due to the nature of the job,” says Steven Spencer, managing director of transportation at HireRight.
About 88 percent of long-haul drivers suffer from one or more health issues.
Hypertension, smoking and obesity are common, and all of these conditions make our drivers likely candidates for chronic diseases.
See the 2014 report by Karl Sieber, a researcher at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati.
Obesity which is also associated with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea, is a concern too since it leads to bigger problems.
A healthy diet can be a challenge for hard working drivers who are sitting behind the wheel for long periods of time, and faced with few options to eat healthier while on the road. Exercising while working or after a long day of driving can seem like an arduous task as well.
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Fatigue is another serious issue that affects the health and safety of drivers. If a driver doesn’t sleep enough, or changes his or her sleeping schedule based on changes in work hours they can feel drowsy while driving which can lead to erratic driving and accidents. The quality of sleep is equally important.
Fatigue can make the person prone to infections, high blood pressure and diabetes. It increases appetite, and can naturally lead to weight gain and obesity.
Sieber’s study shows that 27 percent of long-haul drivers sleep an average of six hours or less in a 24-hour cycle.
How to Tackle the Health Concerns of Truckers
It is recommended that employers, and carriers start wellness programs and make changes to help employees stay fit, alert and rested. Installing a blood-pressure monitor in lunch rooms and lounges, handing out small exercise equipment and gadgets (things truckers can use inside the cab of the truck) can make a difference, giving their bodies an opportunity or two for movement. They are cost effective too. Educating drivers about the benefits of walking, stretching, and other sports in addition to tips and guidelines, on what to eat to nourish the body without putting on weight, can be helpful to everyone involved. Trucking companies who invest in such programs will benefit from a healthier, reliable team of employees who stay onboard and perform efficiently.
Right now, 21 percent of trucking companies offer free immunization/flu shots, and 18 percent offer smoking cessation programs, according to the HireRight survey. That’s definitely a step into the right direction.
Keeping our drivers healthy, functional and on the road is a collaborative effort. It keeps the wheels of the industry rolling while helping the country move forward and the economy active.
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