BTS 19: Working towards healthier workplaces

By: Mark Gojszyk


How improving workers’ physical and mental health can benefit a business

BTS 19: Working towards healthier workplaces
Encouraging drivers to get more steps in every day can help mitigate physical health issues and mental isolation

 

Truck drivers don’t move or sleep very much, but not all hope is lost when it comes to improving work and lifestyle habits, according to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Queensland.

Speaking at the Brisbane Truck Show’s (BTS) KPMG Insights Centre, Roslyn Miller of WHS Queensland gave an insight into the confronting realities of being a truck driver – but also examples of proactive workplace environments facilitating healthier drivers.

A research project, Shifting Gears, found truck drivers spend 22.3 hours per day not moving and only get 5.1 hours sleep on workdays (only slightly increasing to 6.3 hours on weekends).

Miller notes significant challenges facing industry include:

  • Job stress, lack of job control and time pressures
  • Long work hours, lack of work-life balance, raised levels of fatigue
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Limited access to healthy food and ability to active.

Those factors can contribute to an elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and even general colds and flus that can impact business through productivity decreases and accidents.

Miller recommends businesses having frameworks in place to impact health in the workplace. These can include:

Organisation of work

  • Think about start times and break times - how can you map the better truck stop into driving runs
  • How can managers and supervisors support drivers while on the road – how do you communicate?

Work environment

  • Can you take food with you? Is a fridge or esky an option?
  • Do you have a water bottle to encourage hydration?
  • Is there an opportunity to have cooking equipment?
  • How is your truck cabin set out? Consider risk assessment on musculoskeletal issues

Worker

  • Shifting nutrition – improving healthy eating
  • Healthy sleeping habits

According to Miller, setting up solid support systems can mitigate physical health issues and mental isolation.

Even something as simple as a driver having the confidence to call and receive support from management when not feeling well on the road can make a big difference.

Miller notes an example of an incentive system a company used to encourage drivers to get more steps in a day, which involved turning one walk around a truck to two or three, and having drivers walk around a truck stop – with mates when possible – rather than going straight for food and sitting down to eat.

The idea was to disrupt a person’s way of thinking and the results were positive: overall sitting time reduced and blood pressures and waist circumferences dropped.

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