Just north of the border, the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Health has just started a study specifically looking at the health, safety and wellness of long-haul truck drivers. This study is different from others in that it looks at several factors related to a truck driver’s behavior. The spectrum of data points it encompasses includes stress, fatigue, environmental risks, and road hazards. Out of the many studies completed on this topic, this takes a holistic look at truck driver safety and health.
The study was carried out through the creation of two online surveys. One survey was geared towards truck drivers and the second towards trucking companies. The questions in the surveys were designed to learn more about truck drivers’ behaviors and what kind of initiatives trucking companies are implementing to support a healthier lifestyle for truck drivers.
The university will be running the surveys through January of 2019. They are hoping to generate approximately 1,000 responses from both truck drivers and fleets by the time the study completed. Currently, the university is going through the process of aggregating the data and will begin analysis once it has been collected.
Formerly, the university completed a pilot study to determine the efficacy of a full study. The results from their pilot study revealed that health issues ranging from unhealthy eating and drinking to stress and other physiological problems are having a negative impact on truck driver health and wellness. The pilot study also uncovered that trucking companies can and should be doing more to provide a supportive environment for their truck drivers. Whether it be through flexible working hours, better health and wellness policies, or specific programs targeting employee health, the options are out there.
The data gathered through the study, once analyzed, will be used to set up a Best Practices manual or series of guidelines that can be shared with employers and managers within trucking companies. The university took up the study for obvious reasons related to long-haul trucker health.
Professional over-the-road truckers are at risk for elevated illnesses simply due to the nature of their job. Just as an office worker must spend many, many hours a day in a single position, not moving or exercising, a truck driver must operate in similar circumstances. The question surrounding the debate now is: What can be done to change this paradigm?
As technological solutions emerge, trucking companies are better poised to facilitate programs that specifically address the health and wellness of their employees and operators. While many within the industry point to ELD compliance as a major pain point, the health and safety of our nation’s truck drivers should take center stage as we move into the future. Certainly, the growth of innovation in the industry will help.
Truck drivers may be at greater risk for suffering health issues, but as the trucking industry expands and fleets reap the benefits of a heady trucking environment, there is no reason why truck driver health and safety should not take center stage. By delving into the data provided by studies like the one being done by the University of Saskatchewan, trucking companies will be better positioned to do just that. Will we see measurable improvements in trucker health over time? Hopefully so.