Yes, this is a trucking safety blog, so what are we doing talking about health? Consider that ill-health affects your circulation, which in turn affects your energy level. If your health is affecting your rest, a lack of rest could affect your road safety.
The fact is this: Trucker health is a topic we all should be talking about. Sure, we love our jobs. Certainly there are a number of reasons to. Being healthy isn’t about the job. Plenty of people in other industries spend a disproportionate amount of time in a seated position. So why do truckers bear the burden of ill health decisions?
The statistics are quite sobering. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a full 50 percent of truck drivers are obese, compared to 24 percent of the normal working population. Truckers were also more than twice as likely to have diabetes and hypertension.
A separate study commissioned by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that only 14 percent of truckers can be classified as ‘not overweight or obese.’
This study revealed that a staggering 88 percent of truckers admit to having at least one risk factor for chronic disease, whether it be hypertension, obesity or smoking. In fact, over half of all truckers smoke cigarettes.
As we sit here and debate why the state of trucker health is so dismal, perhaps the answer is right in front of us. Only a paltry 8 percent of truckers admit to exercising regularly and eating right, compared with 49 percent of the general population. So what are we going to do about it?
Why It’s Important
To obtain a CDL, a truck driver must pass a biannual Department of Transportation (DOT) examination, which includes a comprehensive physical. To qualify for their license, potential truckers must meet a series of measures, including blood pressure at 140/90 and below and respiratory functions that don’t interfere with sleep.
The Compliance Safety and Accountability Act also includes measures that address truck driver health. The Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) includes a requirement that fleets properly document instances where drivers are unfit to operate, whether it be for training, experience, or medical reasons.
To be in compliance, truck drivers must be able to prove they are both physically and medically qualified. Serious health problems could endanger a driver’s ability to continue on in their career.
A Focus On Health
As fleets and independent operators try to find ways to better run their operations, trucker health is increasingly landing at the top of the agenda. Intrepid fleet managers have technology and web-based options for managing their drivers’ health.
In addition to this, leading retail organizations such as CVS / Minute Clinic, RediClinic and the Convenient Care Clinics network offer DOT exams and provide ongoing wellness services for truck drivers across 600 member clinics around the country.
As the healthcare industry shifts to electronic records and telemedicine, things like wearable technologies and miniturized forms of care will become the norm. New devices will allow truck drivers to better track and manage their health.
Control Your Fate
Beyond letting fate dictate your health to you, realize that good health is in your hands. What you choose to eat and how often you exercise will determine your health outcomes for years to come.
We get it, improving your health does not go without challenges. You work extremely long days and stay sedentary for extended periods of time. But take small measures wherever you can to put your personal health back in the spotlight.
Choosing to take care of your body and mind isn’t just about living a long life, it’s about the safety of your job and the security of your career. Treat yourself right and the road will thank you.