Archive for May, 2020

June is National Safety Month

Image source: National Safety Council

National Safety Month takes place every June to raise awareness of the leading causes of injury at work, at home, and on the road. During the month-long observance, thousands of communities, organizations, and health professionals will unite to help people identify hazards and solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 preventable injury-related deaths totaled 4,414, and medically consulted injuries totaled 4.5 million. Total injury costs were estimated at $161.5 billion, including wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle property damage, and employer costs.

The best continuous way to prevent injuries and fatalities at work is to have a company safety program. An effective program should include your safety policies, steps to identify job hazards and solutions, and responsibilities for managers, supervisors, and employees. Review, evaluate and update your safety program often to keep it aligned with changing conditions.   

It’s easy to participate in National Safety Month. Start by planning a few activities that will teach your employees how to be safe at work and at home. Some ideas to help get you going include having a safety fair, 5-minute toolbox talks, tip sheets, hands-on training, holding a lunch-n-learn, safety trivia contests, and safety excellence awards.

Check out the links below for resources to plan your events:

Free trucking safety training materials at KeepTruckingSafe.org.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries training, videos & workshops.

National Safety Month training resources from the National Safety Council.

Take the SafeAtWork Pledge and let others know here.

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May is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

Image source: National Association for Health and Fitness

Global Employee Health & Fitness Month is a worldwide observance to promote health and fitness in the workplace. Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and physical exercise is key to avoiding injury and illness and being a dynamic, high-performing worker. For truck drivers, health and fitness are vital to safely operating a vehicle and performing other related job tasks. Healthy and fit drivers benefit business operations because they feel physically better, have higher mental alertness, and comply with CDL medical requirements.

Health and Fitness Challenges for Truck Drivers

Finding opportunities to get nutritious foods and regular exercise can be a challenge for truck drivers. Although truck drivers are always on the go, their access to healthy food options on pick-up and delivery routes often reflects food desert conditions. Truck stops, rest areas, convenience stores, break room vending machines, and fast food restaurants usually offer unhealthy processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Exercise is especially important for long-haul drivers who travel for extended periods without much physical activity. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that truck drivers lack adequate exercise and many see themselves as being out of shape. As a result of eating poorly and not exercising, obesity and morbid obesity are twice as high for long-haul truck drivers than other workers.

Research shows that obesity negatively impacts job performance and can cause sleep apnea, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A recent RAND study reports that nearly 60 percent of the United States population has one or more of these chronic conditions. Treatment costs for these conditions account for 90% of national health care expenditures. Another study found that combined annual costs of covered medical, sick day, short-term disability, and workers’ compensation claims for normal weight employees averaged $3,830 while costing $8,067 for morbidly obese employees.  

Taking the Onramp to Better Health

A recent nationwide survey of over 20,000 employees found that healthy workers were 16 to 27 percent less likely to have recent absenteeism. It also indicated that higher job performance was more likely for: 

  • 25 percent of workers who ate healthy the entire day.
  • 20 percent of workers who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week.
  • 15 percent for workers who exercised for 30 or more minutes on three or more days a week.

Being on the road doesn’t mean that truck drivers have no chances to improve their health. Instead, it means that they must adapt to their mobile workplace by doing things a little differently than most employees who always work in the same place. The tips below can help steer drivers in the right direction, but it is always important to consult a health care provider before making any dietary or lifestyle (exercise) changes, to make sure you can safely do so.

  • Shop at grocery stores and pack your own meals, snacks, and drinks instead of stopping at truck stops, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants.
  • Eat foods that are high in protein and omega 3-fatty acids, and low in carbs, preservatives, and sodium.
  • Eat smaller meals more often during the day to help lose weight and steady your blood sugar level.
  • Drink more water instead of sugary drinks like soda.
  • Sleep in a quiet, comfortable place, and avoid large meals, spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and television before going to sleep.
  • Find a safe area near your truck to take a walk, stretch, do push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, or jump rope.
  • Locate truck stops that provide food and services that support a healthy lifestyle for truck drivers.
  • Quit using tobacco products, stimulants, and alcohol.

Click on the following links for more information and resources:

Keep Trucking Safe.org – Truck Driver Health Issues

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – Truck Driver Health

NIOSH – Total Worker Health Programs

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – Driving Healthy.org

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