Risky business: Researchers look at health risks facing truckers
New study aims to help employers identify high-risk drivers and prioritize them for treatment.
The trucking industry has long struggled with a shortage of drivers, a problem that's often exacerbated by ultra-high rates of turnover and attrition. But a recent study is shedding light on one of the causes—and a possible solution for that.
The study, conducted by Grand Haven, Mich.-based consulting firm Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions, examined the overall health and wellness of drivers vis-à-vis other people working in the transportation industry. Its aim was to identify health risks correlated with the drivers' jobs—information that could then be used by employers to identify higher-risk drivers and prioritize them for health treatment, according to the authors of the study, Relationship between Demographics and Wellness in the Transportation Industry.
The survey report detailed the results of a five-year study of 15,165 drivers and non-drivers (workers employed in terminals, warehouses, shops, and offices). It measured factors including body mass index (BMI), tobacco use, age, and gender and how these factors affect driver and non-driver health.
Among other findings, the study found that drivers are 80 percent more likely than non-drivers to have at least three out of five conditions involved with metabolic syndrome (MetS), placing them at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The research also showed the driver group had a 30-percent higher obesity rate than the non-drivers and that drivers are 130 percent more likely to smoke.
The report includes specific recommendations for wellness and employee education programs based on the study's findings. The full report can be downloaded at Atlas's website.
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