This is the fourth in a four part series on truck driver health and wellness, and part of CCJ's What Drivers Want series. Other parts in the series are "Keeping drivers means offering more than health insurance coverage", "Fleets' have a role in driver health and wellness", and "Easing drivers' access to healthcare".
“It also sucks driving truck is slowly killing me physically,” one driver commented on CCJ's What Drivers Want survey.
Bob Perry, a health advocate for truck drivers, said just like many carriers proactively address the health of equipment with preventative maintenance, they should do the same with driver health. That includes mental health.
Truckers Health Network this month hosted its Truckers Health Con Conference in Arizona to help the trucking industry learn how proactive measures can lead to dramatic reductions in sick days, accidents caused by unhealthy drivers, expenses associated with new hires, and employee turnover, resulting in considerable savings.
The answer: implementing a wellness strategy.
According to recent studies, investing $1 in a wellness program can yield $6 in saved healthcare costs.
According to a whitepaper from trucking industry instructional design and learning company Luma Brighter Learning, there are eight dimensions of wellness: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial and environmental – all of which can serve as foundational pillars of a wellness program.
The whitepaper suggests trucking companies help their drivers develop goals and then guide them with tips and resources to achieve them. It also advises companies to review known organizational injuries and lost-time health events to determine critical target areas when developing the company’s program goals.
The first step at Long Haul Trucking (CCJ Top 250, No. 224) was to determine which muscle groups to focus on to achieve the program goal for injury prevention (as it relates to injuries on the job). Weak core muscles and lack of spatial awareness were two main factors leading to workers’ compensation injuries in the Long Haul driver group. This finding kicked off the creation of short video clips of one minute or less of stretches that focus on the body’s core muscles. The stretches are directly aimed at building core strength and improving spatial awareness. The company has also added a wellness incentive that rewards drivers with a weekly reduction in health insurance premiums if they have completed a yearly preventative exam.
As part of its wellness program, Paschall Truck Lines (No. 93) offers free gym memberships and motivational Mondays and provides opportunities to connect at a social level. The company provides ongoing reminders, such as those related to mental health awareness, along with physical reminders, such as those pertaining to mobility exercises and the benefits of walking.
Andy Vanzant, COO at Gulf Relay in Mississippi said drivers like having a health program.
“It just changes the mindset that the employee now comes to us saying, ‘Y’all really do care about your people,’” he said. “We want you to be here. We want you to work for us for as many years as you possibly can.”