An initiative by Frasers Livestock Transport shows the trucking industry in rural areas taking responsibility for the health and wellbeing of its team, so PowerTorque went along to the ‘Yarn in the Yard’ to say see how the initiative is bringing a broader understanding of the issues into Queensland’s rural areas.
As one of the larger road transport fleets hauling livestock in Australia, Frasers, based in Warwick in Queensland, has always being strong on emphasising safety, looking after the health and wellbeing of personnel and giving something back to the industry.
The annual ‘Yard in the Yard’ has been running for a few years and has grown year on year. Initially planned as an opportunity for the operation’s staff, who are normally spread over vast areas of rural Queensland and New South Wales, to get together and discuss issues pertinent to the livestock task, but also give feedback to the company itself.
The event has become an opportunity to engage with the road transport industry as a whole and served as the launch event a joint effort between the Queensland Trucking Association and Heart of Australia, an initiative which is bringing much-needed high-level healthcare to the trucking industry and regional areas all across Queensland, and beyond.
The QTA’s ‘Driving Better Health’, is an initiative to support health and wellbeing for heavy vehicle transport drivers across Australia. The project funding was announced in August by Michael McCormack, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and Scott Buchholz, Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport.
QTA CEO Gary Mahon said the project is taking health assessments to truck drivers through the Heart of Australia trucks, making it more accessible for operators to take part in the health assessments.
“The Driving Better Health project aims at increasing health awareness for heavy vehicle drivers by providing the direct benefit of a comprehensive health and wellness assessment; including heart, diabetes, mental health and other lifestyle indicators,” said Gary.
“Kicking off at the ‘Yarn at the Yard’ is a great way to launch the project and we encourage all local heavy vehicle operators to sign up for an assessment.
“In 2021, we will be on the road delivering these free health assessments that normally cost $165 per person, fully funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Federal Government. We will be offering more health assessments in key locations in Queensland as well as Sydney and Melbourne in 2021.”
The funding for this initiative is part of $5.5 million in safety grants being distributed across the country in 2020-21 to improve heavy vehicle safety.
“We know there is a correlation between an increased risk of vehicle incidents and driver health and wellbeing,” said Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO. “Heavy vehicle safety is everyone’s responsibility and through local safety programs and the efforts of organisations like the QTA we can make our roads safer for all road users.”
Getting a Much-Needed Health Check
Spending the day in the yard with the Frasers trucks and personnel, not only gave all of the people working for Frasers the opportunity to get a much-needed Health Check, but also for other personnel working for other trucking operators who are based in Warwick’s transport hub.
The Heart Health Convoy will visit 12 locations and provide up to 400 health assessments. The project relies on a mobile clinic providing health assessments, which will address key conditions including: nutrition, movement and fitness, psychological health, sleep, blood pressure, respiratory function and other risks like diabetes, liver function, lipid profile and kidney function.
The Driving Better Health initiative is looking to increase health awareness among drivers. It is hoped that addressing this issue will produce many benefits such as improved safety performance, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and worker retention. Educating drivers on positive behaviours for their health and the link to chronic illness should contribute to behavioural change.
Using the Heart of Australia team to spearhead the process with its driver health assessments will help stimulate trucking operations to implement health and wellness strategies that focus on improving health risks. As a result, this will lead to increased productivity and better workplace health and safety performance.
In the long term it is the aim of the initiative to promote the ability to replicate the project delivery model. It is hoped to initiate similar health assessments and make them deliverable across other states and jurisdictions, while sharing the project outcomes will further highlight the need for programs to address this critical issue in the transport industry.