It seems the entire nation is taking action to become healthier and become more aware of their mental health. The same goes for the transport and haulage industry. Awareness of the importance of driver health and well-being within the workforce is increasing, with operators and fleet management looking for ways to support their team.
The industry is known to struggle with health and well-being issues. Disrupted, or a lack of sleep can be symptomatic of shift work and long hours overnight. Also, lifestyle-related health issues like stress, diabetes, and obesity are common-place within the driver community. Such factors can accumulate and contribute to fatigue and poor mental health. With some believing the haulage and logistics industry is among ‘the most exposed’ to poor mental health. Most drivers spend long shifts alone. Also, with limited meal options out on the road and time pressures, healthy eating and staying active is sometimes near impossible.
Act on Health & Well-Being
The demographic of HGV drivers also highlights a reason for the transport industry to take action on health and well-being. Roughly 92% of professional HGV drivers being male. Similarly to other male-dominated industries, such as the construction industry, mental well-being is typically poor. For the good of their workforce, transport management and fleet operators are looking for ways to keep their team in good health. Plus, with industry recruitment struggles and an aging workforce, the need for improved health and well-being services is as urgent as ever.
With 68% of employees agreeing they would make use of health and well-being services provided to them by their employer, there is a clear outcry for support. The Age, Health and Professional Drivers Network (AHPD) have even launched the Health and Wellbeing of Older Professional Drivers: Best Practice Guidebook. It provides advice for fleet management and drivers of all ages on how they can become healthier whilst working. They believe that employers should adopt two prongs of strategy to help their workforce. Firstly, the work environment should promote positive mental health. Secondly, they should provide employees with resources to improve their own mental health and well-being.
Starting a conversation on health could get the ball rolling and set everyone on the right road, with an open line of communication with management. Some companies have even created internal competitions and incentives to encourage a team spirit and some healthy competition. For example, implementing a leaderboard to see who can do the most steps in one week. With skilled drivers in high demand, fleet managers are becoming more focused on improving work standards for drivers. Including safety, health, and well-being. Increasingly, fleet managers are turning to next-generation telematics systems as tools to help manage well-being in the workplace.
Traditionally, telematics systems are used to track vehicles, monitor driver behaviour, improve efficiency and stay within the lines of compliance. However, a new emphasis on driver well-being has encouraged a growing use of on-board sensors and camera technology. In turn, creating more opportunities to discuss and promote driver well-being. For fleet operators, sharing the benefits of telematics and connected vehicle technology can help take the pressure off drivers. For instance, real-time information about road and weather conditions can optimise routing information. When this information reaches drivers before they start out, they have more control over their route and delivery schedule. Based on data-driven, live information.
More sophisticated technologies can pin-point precise addresses too, so deliveries are as accurate and efficient as possible. Moreover, this gives drivers a greater sense of control and insight. Using ADAS camera systems can make drivers aware of situations that could lead to at-fault accidents. For example, falling asleep. Subsequently, this information can empower drivers to take their own precautions. They could prevent an accident if they are aware of the risks. Such as taking a longer break or getting better quality sleep. For management too, this insight can support them to create bespoke, constructive training programs.
Recently, a piolet scheme with Garmin wearable devices revealed what driver health and well-being management could look like in the future. With the driver’s consent, wearing the technology tracks things like blood pressure, heart rate, and sleeping patterns. Giving the driver and their company vital information about their health. So, everyone is fully informed before, during and after a shift. For all involved, the data presents an opportunity to take the necessary steps to have a healthier, and potentially safer workforce.
Like with anything new, some will have reservations. Certainly, as the technology gathers personal, and potentially sensitive information. However, fleet management should communicate with their teams to see how the technology gives drivers themselves more control and awareness of their own health and well-being. Companies that are considering introducing such devices to their teams should arrange practical workshops. From there, the team can become familiar and understand the full details of the devices. As a result, over time with a fully integrated system, fleet efficiency and driver safety can improve.