Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com
Because of the sedentary nature of their job, because of job stress, and because of sometimes poor dietary habits, especially while on the road, motor carriers as a group tend to have a higher rate of health problems than workers in many other industries. This can affect their job performance and safety. In today’s Advisor, we give you information to train your workers on driver wellness and safety.
Fatigue on the road increases the risk that drivers will make a mistake and have an accident. Fatigue affects reflexes, judgment, concentration, alertness, and mood—all of which are faculties needed to drive safely. Drivers can manage fatigue by:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well-balanced meals
- Keeping the cab environment comfortable
- Taking periodic rest breaks
- Pulling over and taking a quick nap if feeling very tired
Unmanaged stress can be hazardous to health. Stress can lead not only to physical discomfort (headaches, indigestion, aches and pains), but over time, it can contribute to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. To help manage job-related stress, drivers can:
- Count to 10 when stressed or angry and give themselves time to think more clearly before acting.
- Take deep breaths to release tension.
- Listen to music.
- Talk about problems with family and friends.
- Maintain a sense of humor.
- Exercise to relieve tension.
- Take time to relax everyday and do something they really enjoy.
Ergonomics is about performing the job in such a way as to prevent injuries to the back and other parts of the body. Sitting and driving for long hours, lifting heavy loads, and other aspects of a driver’s job put a lot of stress and strain on a driver’s body. Drivers can reduce the risk of ergonomically related injuries by:
- Being careful getting in and out of the vehicle to avoid strains
- Maintaining a good driving posture
- Adjusting their seat for maximum comfort
- Shifting position periodically to relieve muscle tension
- Walking around and stretching on driving breaks
- Lifting and carrying heavy objects properly
Drivers may be vulnerable to crime and violence on the road, and that could lead to injuries. To prevent problems, drivers should:
- Lock their vehicles when they’re in them and when they leave them.
- Be careful in parking lots, rest stops, and on the street.
- Carry a cell phone and report suspicious activity or individuals.
- Avoid disputes with other drivers that could lead to fights.
- Report any crime or violence to police right away.
Why It Matters
- A significant number of vehicle accidents are health-related, which makes wellness an important safety factor.
- Being healthy helps you function better on and off the road.
- Wellness keeps you on the job earning a paycheck.
- Preventing illness and disease allows you to live a more comfortable, longer, happier life.