The start of a 2016 – for many individuals – is a time to start eating healthy and moving more. And the trucking industry is no exception. It’s not new news to those in the trucking industry that the job’s long hours of sitting and irregular sleeping habits can take a toll on a driver’s health. A driver’s unhealthy lifestyle habits may impact their overall driving career and play a role in the amount of time spent off work following an on-the-job injury.
So what is the trucking industry doing to prevent its drivers from missing work for health reasons? For starters, the American Trucking Association’s Image & Outreach Program, Healthy Fleet, is a “fun and engaging way to promote Health and Wellness in the trucking industry,” according to the ATA. In 2013, Healthy Trucker Assistance Program launched Healthy Fleet in an attempt to increase truck drivers’ life expectancy and reduce driver obesity by motivating, educating and supporting drivers in their path to a healthier lifestyle on the road. Healthy Fleet hosts challenges throughout the year that are open to the entire trucking industry. Drivers can record their daily steps and compete against other companies, groups or internally amongst their own team. Overall, the program has helped drivers achieve healthier, happier, safer and a more financially rewarding careers in trucking. See www.healthyfleet.com.
At the start of 2016, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), which represents nearly 700 companies working in and serving the truckload freight industry across the country, began focusing on driving wellness in order to help companies and drivers attain fitness goals. TCA Wellness, powered by Rolling Strong, is a program tailored to the truck drivers and includes health-check stations and a smartphone app that guides truck drivers about nutrition and exercise while on the road. See www.truckload.org.
TCA Wellness is meant to get truck drivers eating healthy and moving. Why? Because if truck drivers gain weight, develop sleep problems or diabetes, this weakens their ability to work, which results in less money for the driver. For the trucking companies, this means fewer drivers and more money spent on recruiting drivers. If truck drivers remain healthy, experienced drivers are not lost to employers due to health problems.
From a legal standpoint, a trucking company’s health and wellness program may reduce the cost of workers’ compensation. After an on-the-job accident, such as a motor vehicle accident, if a driver is an employee, that driver may file a workers’ compensation claim to pay the medical bills. The benefits may also cover some lost wages if the driver needs to miss work. With health and wellness programs, medical conditions that may otherwise interfere with the employee’s recovery can be prevented or reduced. A healthy truck driver results in less time recovering, which means less time off work and overall less workers’ compensation costs.
Overall, health and wellness programs motivate truck drivers to eat healthy and move more, which helps drivers live a healthier and happier life on the road. This, in turn, creates a positive impact on all aspects of the industry.
Anna Newell is an associate attorney at Roberts Perryman. Anna’s practice focuses on transportation, insurance coverage and defense.
Roberts Perryman has been a leader in transportation defense for over 50 years with offices in St. Louis and Springfield, MO and Belleville, IL. http://www.robertsperryman.com