Australia’s transport industry has struggled with a serious mental health crisis for some time. And drivers are starting to feel the pinch more than ever, both physically and mentally.
New studies from Monash University and OzHelp Foundation have revealed that 80 per cent of Australian truckies are either overweight or obese, with one third suffering from multiple chronic health conditions.
It’s time that driver’s wellbeing became a top priority for all companies with employees on the road. Here’s what you can do to get started.
Long hours are taking a toll and it’s easy to forget the cost of pushing people to breaking point. Prioritising rest breaks for drivers and ensuring breaks between trips are necessary steps in tackling driver exhaustion.
By managing road hours and ensuring that drivers aren’t being worked into the ground, you can show staff that their wellbeing is important.
A focus on safety and wellbeing begins at the top. Without a commitment from leaders, there’s less chance of buy-in from others.
That’s why building a workplace culture that focuses on health and safety is important. Identifying events and activities that negatively impact drivers means you can mitigate them. And instead of just monitoring driver data, use it improve driver safety and wellbeing through teaching sessions.
Organisations that live and breathe health and safety make it easier for staff to recognise the importance of looking after themselves, and each other.
Talking openly and honestly is crucial to drive change for the better.
It’s not easy to talk mental health. Barriers to discussing it still exist. Giving staff the chance to speak openly needs to be prioritised. Set the example by speaking first.
There should be a flow of information from management to staff. Employee assistance programs, and other forms of assistance need to be business as usual, not unusual.
Australia is a big place, and with vast distances to travel drivers can find themselves on the road for days at a time.
Managers and support staff must take on a leadership role when it comes to reducing the isolation of drivers on long haul trips.
Encouraging socialisation, even if it’s through something as simple as a phone call, can make all the difference for people otherwise isolated a lot of the time.
Another way of encouraging healthier employees is through employee initiatives.
Enshrining initiatives that instil good health and wellness can bring workers into the fold and give them control their own health narratives.
Taking the time to introduce fitness challenges or supporting national awareness days can normalise subjects that still carry a stigma.
One in two Australian truck drivers reports some level of psychological distress, and almost a third report being diagnosed with three or more health conditions. Transport managers need to take the lead in providing all staff with the frameworks, capabilities and confidence they need to make health a high priority.