Truck drivers face unique challenges that often result in poor health outcomes. The long hours, stressful conditions, and lack of sleep put them at risk for a variety of medical issues. According to a survey done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), over half (69%) of US truck drivers report being overweight or obese. This is over two times higher than the general population. Truck drivers also tend to suffer from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. They may also experience higher rates of injury and illness compared to other occupations. A healthy lifestyle can help truckers manage their mental and physical health, and stay safe on the road. Here are some tips for maintaining drivers’ health and wellness.
Challenges to Maintaining Drivers’ Health and Wellness
Drivers’ health and wellness are at risk every day. Drivers often have limited access to healthy food on the road. Fast food is far more prevalent along the United States interstate system, which is how more than 70% of freight moves through the country. Drivers spend hours and hours in a sedentary position. According to the FMCSA, property-carrying drivers can drive for up to 8 hours consecutively without taking a 30-minute break.
With quick delivery expectations, many drivers do not have time to exercise when they are on duty. Drivers spend days and even weeks away from home and their loved ones, which takes a toll on both their mental and physical health. With all of these challenges, many drivers do not receive the typical 2-year DOT exam medical certificate due to varying health issues, like high levels of cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes.
Tips for Improving Drivers’ Health and Wellness
Improving driver wellness is essential to maintaining the trucking industry. According to the American Trucking Association, there is a shortage of 80,000 professional drivers. This is due to boomer drivers retiring and many other drivers being ineligible to drive due to health issues. There are a variety of ways employers can work to improve driver health and wellness. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Personal Development Allowance
In an attempt to improve drivers’ health and wellness, some trucking companies started offering a small personal development allowance. This allowance can be used to cover a gym membership, healthy food on the road, sleep aides like dark curtains, or home workout equipment. Companies use the personal development allowance to give employees the means to improve their health and wellness without dipping into their earnings.
Health and Wellness Incentives
Incentivizing health and wellness is used across many industries in the United States. Offering gift cards, cash prizes, or time off for healthy behavior is a great way to develop a culture of health and wellness amongst your drivers. You can have drivers collect their food receipts and reward drivers that chose healthy establishments or healthy food options. Additionally, encouraging employees to track their sleep schedule and reward them when they consistently get adequate sleep is another way to incentivize wellness.
Health and Wellness Program
Developing a wellness program is one of the best ways to maintain driver health and wellness. Health and wellness can be very private for some employees, so be sure to keep it positive, optional, and private. A health and wellness program can include encouraging healthy behaviors like healthy eating, exercise, and sleep, providing health clinics on-site, and offering DOT exams. The goal is to enhance the quality of life for your drivers. Ask your drivers to identify health challenges that they face daily and use this information to develop your company’s health and wellness program.
Be sure your health and wellness program covers both mental and physical health. Wellness programs not only improve employee health but also boost morale and reduces turnover rates. Drivers that feel cared for and appreciated are more likely to stay at their job!
Finding ways to maintain and improve driver health can be challenging. Reach out to Work Health Solutions today to improve your drivers’ health and wellness!
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