The Missing Link In A Safety Check
More trucking companies are tuning in to incorporate a driver wellness program for their truck drivers and other employees as a means to improving their bottom line and attracting and keeping hold of drivers for the long haul. But what to do and how to implement this for all drivers has yet to be successfully implemented for all drivers to benefit.
Most driver wellness programs currently out there focus heavily on exercise. Traditional methods and fitness models take the driver out of their workflow and ask them to “workout.” And although that approach is helpful and will work for some. The likelihood of the drivers who need it most to implement it themselves and stick with it is lower than anyone wants to admit.
The New Stretch With Safety Checks
It is nothing new for a company to have a list of required safety checks each driver must do every day before heading out on the road. But with the current state of our trucking industry, our driver’s health, the stats don’t lie. These stats lead us to see that 86% of drivers are obese and 54 percent of commercial drivers smoke cigarettes, and only 8 percent exercise. So is it that we need more safety checks for drivers to remain safe on the road, is it that we need another exercise program telling drivers how to do push-ups or pull on a resistance band, or is it about time we require something a bit different?
The missing link in a driver’s safety check is not another walk around on their truck, another electronic device regulating something or another, nor is it another cargo inspection. It’s an inventory of the driver themselves. That inventory is in the name of safety, except it has everything to do with simple ergonomics drivers can implement every day. If you care about the driver being safe on the road, isn’t it time to consider the one behind the wheel?
What We Can Learn From the Construction Crews
Those who work in the construction world have had similar fallouts with quality workers and those who stay in the game long term. Many feel it is hard on the body, and those that suffer injury often begin to look for other means for work. Recruiting quality talent and keeping the existing healthy enough to keep pounding nails are becoming increasingly difficult.
However, companies that chose to implement properly designed stretching or ergonomic (driver wellness) programs for their workers found success in reducing work-related injuries. However, for these programs to work, the exercises and stretches must be taught by a well-trained individual and done repeatedly at least two to three days per week with a time commitment of five to ten minutes. What if every driver on the road took 5 minutes every day to do a few stretches designed specifically for driver success?
My Husbands Story
My husband is a construction worker by trade and has done everything from operating machinery (a CDL holder) to concrete forming and pounding every type of nail you can imagine. And at one time, he worked on a crew that required an 11-minute stretching routine each morning before starting work. If you didn’t show up, you didn’t work. Although my husband laughed at it (I was telling him about these stretches for years, but hey, better late than never), after just a few days, he mentioned his hands hurt less, and there was a reduction in tension related to swinging his hammer and gripping certain various tools throughout the day. All of which points to a reduction in future work-related injuries. My husband no longer works on that crew, but he still does many of the previously required stretches he learned during his morning safety routine on the job.
If it helps, this decision is not about making your drivers healthier (although the industry points to us that we should care about this more), but rather making your drivers safer. The truck can only be so safe, and at some point, it is then in the hands of the competent, alert, physically healthy driver to execute and perform the tasks at hand.
The Outdated ROI Decision Making Strategy
Sadly far too many employers (trucking company owners) are still stuck on the old method of ROI (return on investment), where it all comes down to the dollar bills. And although you should always weigh the cost factor when considering a new company program or feature, you also have to ask yourself, what is the potential value on investment (VOI) and long-term ROI, not just the immediate cost?
When a company is considering implementing a well-designed program into their driver’s safety check routine, they are showing future drivers, lawmakers and hopefully it never comes to this, but lawyers or agents that they have done all they could to help reduce the chances of an accident, injury or hazardous outcome by implementing the missing link into a drivers safety check, with a properly designed wellness program.
It’s about demonstrating that the expenditure comes with a benefit (ie. Reducing soft tissue or musculoskeletal injuries, reducing fatigue, improving reaction and response time while behind the wheel, all for a reduction in workers’ compensation costs and improved worker productivity and wellness). And if you can do this, then the training or program will be more likely perceived as a benefit by the employer, driver, and even insurance company.
With nearly 20 years of experience designing usable fitness, wellness, and ergonomics programming for both individuals to take part in and companies, I have learned that when choosing a driver wellness program, make sure:
- The program is broken down in an easily digestible way, meaning drivers can utilize the content in a way that makes sense for them and their day. Have you ever seen an entire parking lot of drivers working out outside their truck? Great concept, but highly unlikely.
- It’s simple. When you incorporate a driver wellness program into a safety check, you are showing drivers when and where to apply these strategies, and that will ensure a greater means of measurable success. More does not always equal better, and in some cases is confusing, overwhelming, and causes wellness regression.
- Finally, it happens from the top down. When the owner, CEO, or the man/woman in charge is all in on their drivers, you’ll see your drivers boost your bottom line all on their own. ,.once you have a well-designed program and safety protocol when integrated properly with the right leaders in place, anything can happen! As humans want to feel cared for, a program can only do so much for the company and drivers.
The Bottom Line
If you fail to make any newly implemented program mandatory, you will struggle to see any real value or ROI on your investment. Don’t look at mandatory as a bad thing. You require your drivers to secure the load a certain way. You require them to wear a safety vest. You require them to fill out certain forms regarding the load they are carrying a certain way-right? All in the name of being able to run a successful company. A safe, reliable trucking company.
When implemented correctly, asking drivers to integrate specific stretches or ergonomics into their day as a part of their safety check will help both the driver and you as a company overall. While others in the trucking industry are focused on exercise programs for drivers, I’m telling you that it won’t do much of anything in the immediate and long-term it may end up as just a feel-good box checked.
We have to start small and start smart. If exercise were the solution, then the stats wouldn’t be reading like they are, that drivers are amongst the most unhealthy in our nation compared to any other industry. These are the men and women driving your company’s trucks, shipping your cargo, and driving your bottom line in one direction or the other. They deserve more. They want more. They are just as critical to your companies success as a well-running truck. And if you are ready to improve your company in the name of safety. And I’m here to show you how simple it can be.
If you would like to learn more about Mother Trucker Yoga’s Driver Wellness Program and Safety Check / Pre-Trip Initiatives-
Learn more about Driver Wellness Program HERE
Contact Hope HERE