HGV drivers are the lifeblood of the UK industry – there are no two ways about it. And with drivers being in such shortage, maintaining a strong and healthy workforce to drive the haulage industry is essential to success. So as an employer, you should be doing all you can to ensure their health stays at 100%. But how can you do this? For most, it means being more aware of what they can do to support the physical and mental health of their drivers.
Physical health is a key touchpoint for the HGV industry and one that most employers are very aware. Long hours behind the wheel can lead to significant spine and neck issues forcing many drivers to retire. This can be anything from a simple chronic backache to spinal disc dehydration, or even acute injuries from the vibrations in the cab. There are also issues around heavy lifting of cargo and unsafe lifting practices such as jerking, all of which can lead to physical injury. Along with spinal and neck problems, HGV drivers can also experience eye issues due to constant strain, particularly if they are predominantly night drivers. There is also the risk of chronic fatigue, which can impact their ability to drive safely. All of these issues can be addressed with proper training, instruction and preventative healthcare options. If your company isn’t already offering some form of help to prevent and treat physical issues in your HGV drivers, you need to start now.
One of the biggest problems in the current workplace is centred not around physical illness, but mental. As our society evolves, our awareness of mental health problems is growing, as it is our responsibility to address them. It’s estimated that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some form of a mental health problem in any given year, with 1 in 6 experiencing this every week. So despite being somewhat taboo, it’s one of the most common issues our country faces. In particular, HGV drivers commonly experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and stress, all of which impact their ability to work effectively and safely. Long hours, night shits, traffic, time away from home – all of it can contribute to some significant mental health issues in drivers. Studies conducted by mental health charity MIND have found that 30% of illnesses in the transport and logistics industry are mental health-related – although this is self-reported and may actually be higher.
And actually, it probably is much higher. Despite our best efforts, the logistics industry is still 95% male, which means you have a workforce who have been socially groomed not to show weakness, particularly around mental health. Statistically, men are much likely to admit or seek help for mental health problems, leading to a much higher suicide rate among men. This means that HGV companies will need to be extra vigilant around mental health in their employees, and put policies in place to support them as much as possible.
Mental health is a much more challenging thing to help with, particularly in the transport and logistics field. Difficult working hours, night shifts, tight deadlines and traffic all build up to a significant risk of mental health issues, and businesses need systems to mitigate them. This may include instituting mental health days, providing mental health care benefits and providing free and confidential counselling to employees at any time. But more importantly, companies need to create an open and accepting environment, so that employees feel they can talk about their mental health issues without judgement or fear of job security.
When it comes to employee health, the best way to view it is holistically. That means seeing the employee as a whole entity, and identifying the issues they may have that could impact your business. By taking a 2 pronged approach to HGV driver health, you can ensure your business retains drivers for longer and sees much higher satisfaction rates. For more information on how you can support your drivers physical and mental health, just get in touch with us today.