Jan 1, 2018
Occupational health and safety is strictly legislated in South Africa, and the onus is on employers to ensure that they meet the specific requirements that apply to their sector in order to avoid fines, costly law suits by injured workers and even closure by the Department of Labour.
Workers in the transport, freight and logistics industry are subjected to high physical demands, and they should undergo regular medical screening to ensure that they are fit to do their jobs. Minimising injuries and accidents that occur because of a lack of medical fitness should therefore be another key element in your overall risk prevention strategy.
However, complying with the law is only one side of the coin. The other side is that you look after your drivers and your logistics staff because, after all, caring for them and their wellness makes good business sense too. At Trucksurance, our experience has certainly been that our clients see the importance of this aspect because their businesses are small enough to care and they are run like a family whose members look out for each other.
Truck drivers are likely to do demanding physical tasks. Just think of the driver who is expected to drive with full concentration for prolonged hours while facing challenges such as the bad behaviour of other drivers, defective roads and inclement weather.
These drivers work long and irregular hours and under strict time pressures too, which all add up to a stressful working environment and a job that takes its toll on the drivers’ physical and mental health.
According to occupational health and safety experts, drivers in the transport industry are typically exposed to:
Musculoskeletal disorders, especially back problems, because of prolonged sitting and repetitive movements.
Whole-body vibration, which, in addition to serious musculoskeletal disorders, can also affect their vision and coordination.
Hearing loss because of noise in the cabin or at the warehouse.
Respiratory problems, because they inhale toxic vapours and fumes from diesel and road dust, for example.
Stress, because of road rage, aggressive customers and crime such as hijackings, which can have many negative mental and physical health effects and lead to absenteeism.
To top it all, because drivers are highly unlikely to work a “normal” 9-5 day, they can experience health issues such as long-term fatigue, insomnia and digestive problems. Infectious and exotic diseases are also a concern for long-distance drivers.
There is therefore no doubt that it is a high-risk and stressful working environment requiring high-performing employees who are fit, healthy and focused. So, while planning your risk prevention strategy, spare a thought for the health and wellness of your drivers too and include that.