Health and Truckers
Truckers face a lot of problems while they are on the road. Irregular schedules and sleep patterns take their toll on the human body over the years. The truth is, truck driving does not easily accommodate healthy living. Carriers are starting to see this as a problem as their health care and workman’s comp costs rise year after year. Some carriers are taking strides to increase the health of their employees by starting wellness programs or weight loss competitions. When you compare the health related statistics of truckers compared to average Americans, the numbers are pretty shocking.
A trucker's lifespan is 5 to 10 years less than the average American's. Also, 17% of Americans who die on the job are truckers. They account for the highest number of highway fatalities. On top of the death risks that come with the job, drivers generally live unhealthy lifestyles. 54 percent of male truck drivers smoke cigarettes, 92 percent don’t exercise regularly, 50 percent are overweight, and 66 percent are unaware they have high blood pressure.
When you think about the profession as a whole, you can see how these problems come about. Dr. Beth Roach, medical director for occupational health at Holy Spirit Hospital in East Pennsboro, says “Prolonged exposure to noise, diesel exhaust, extended work hours, time away from home, and hazards of a sedentary lifestyle, such as poor posture and whole-body vibration, can lead to other health problems.” The work hours seem to be a base for problems such as obesity, sleep apnea, diabetes, and hypertension. Granted obesity is mainly the cause for the last 2, but obesity is still caused by a combination of irregular sleep, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating (all things that drivers suffer from).
Strides are being taken to counter poor driver health. Some truck stops are now providing salad bars and other healthy options. However, it is still hard to find non fast-food restaurants that accommodate or even allow tractor-trailers in its parking lot. Unfortunately, eating healthy is mostly the driver’s responsibility. It is difficult to rely on-the-road options because most are unhealthy. Truckers can start stocking their refrigerators with healthy snacks and meals as alternatives to fast food chains. For exercise some drivers do laps around the warehouses while his goods are unloaded. When drivers are not unloading, they can use their own truck as measurement. Doing 32 laps around a rig equals one mile,” Jennifer Paynter said. She is a log compliance manager who heads up the wellness program at Carlisle Carrier Corp. She also said, “About 5 percent of the company’s 200 drivers are participating in the challenge to lose weight”. Also, out of Con-way Freight’s 4,000 employees who met with a wellness coach over a one-year period, 172 quit smoking and more than 2,600 lost weight, (more than 6,000 pounds total) company officials said. Some steps are being taken but still more needs to be done to improve trucker health. Tips can be found here for more info on healthy living.