Monday, September 22, 2014

Health Issues of a Truck Driver

When we think about dangerous professions, trucking does not come to our mind instantly. We often think of professions such as various emergency workers, the police and fire fighters. Yet, being a truck driver is fundamentally a dangerous profession. A recent study showed truck driving as one of the ten most dangerous professions in America.

Endless hours of driving on the highways and interstates by these truck drivers create a higher risk associated with serious accident. Nevertheless, these risks are much greater than the obvious . . . an unusual work program, extended periods of sitting, lifting heavy things, unhealthy diets, anxiety, and tiredness  can cause severe health issues.

Due to these long intervals of driving, many truckers fighting apathy often acquire smoking habits. Also, sleeping and living in a truck also poses a threat to the health status of truck drivers.

According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) Journal, truck drivers that are long distance haulers (OTR trucking) rank high among professions of people who suffer from significant health issues. Lifestyle as a truck driver includes several factors that make truck driving a high risk profession. Some studies actually suggest that normal life expectancy is reduced by as much as 5 to 10 years. This is truly a significant number.

Various factors such as the workplace conditions affect the health status of truckers, having a negative effect on such trucker. This workplace consists of not only the truck stops on the routes but also other aspects of the transportation environment. These include:

¨     Loading areas
¨     Warehouses
¨     Terminals

Health Issues of a Truck Driver
A truck driver faces a variety of health issues resulting from his workplace environment. They are both physical and psychological in nature. According to a 2009 study in the AAOHN Journal, "male and female drivers both reported common health problems." Among the most common ones are:

·       Obesity
·       High blood pressure
·       Diabetes
·       Sleep apnea
·       Exhaustion
·       Back pain
·       Sinus problems
·       Headaches
·       Arthritis
·       Depression

The stresses involved in being a truck driver result in many of these health-related problems. The actual physical environment creates a breeding ground for others. The job, itself, is responsible for increasing the likelihood of certain health problems.

Truck driving is a dangerous occupation. The problem goes beyond vehicular accidents. There are serious and significant health issues affecting those who are employed as OTR drivers. For men health issues in trucking may extend beyond the physical into the psychological. The same applies for a woman truck driver. With a steadily increasing amount of trucks on the road, we all need to look seriously at improving the health of truckers.

The necessity to improve or enhance the well-being of our nation’s truck drivers is no longer an alternative. It requires urgent attention and will involve changes in the working environment and within our healthcare delivery model. The environment for drivers must be conducive to good health. Truck stops and fleet terminals must begin to offer healthy food products and make fitness equipment gear available and accessible. Drivers also need to have improved access to health education resources and technology such as health kiosks.

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