Best practice guidelines
Evidence from the literature highlights that failure to retain the skills and experience of older professional HGV drivers may have implications for the future growth of the industry. Employers, along with customers and the wider UK logistics-working environment, have an important role to play in ensuring that work is not having a negative impact on the health of this ageing cohort of workers.Our study identified both positive and negative health effects from the profession. Whilst there is the potential for the health of HGV drivers to deteriorate in older age, the findings also showed that if the work is carefully managed and involves an appropriate amount of physical work, then this helps drivers to remain fit and strong and to keep their weight down, as they continue to work into older age.
We found that the work of a professional HGV driver in the UK is likely to involve long, unsociable hours, high physical and mental demands, and often long periods of sedentary work. All of these factors can have adverse health consequences for workers, such as musculoskeletal disorders; stress; tiredness and fatigue; and issues associated with being overweight.
As a result of our study to date, we urge employers to make it easier for drivers to access healthy food and chances to exercise. Dr Johnson states “It is important that HGV employers support the health of this cohort of workers by focusing on providing opportunities to take physical activity during the working day and improving access to healthy food. It is also important we consider how the wider social and cultural aspects of the industry might be adapted to support good health as people work into older age.”
What can you do as a manager?
There are many different ways you can support professional drivers to work into older age. Here are a number of different practices that drivers and their employees have suggested:
- Listen to your drivers
- Monitor your drivers’ health regularly
- Offer drivers some control over work, for example, over the hours that they work, the shifts that they do and the vehicles they drive, where feasible
- Adapt drivers’ work to accommodate any individual health needs
- Change their tasks to be less demanding when necessary
- Adjust shift patterns
- Offer flexible working or reduce working hours to alleviate tiredness
- Consider workloads and relieve time pressures
- Provide support with handling curtains in high wind
- Provide training in lifting and moving objects
- Ensure equipment is in good working order
- Promote health and exercise information
- Provide opportunities to take physical activity during the working day
- Provide leaflets and information about ‘in-cab’ exercises
- Start a ‘know your numbers’ clinic
- Improve access to healthy food (hot when possible)
- Create a ‘sleep apnoea’ project
- Encourage occupational health referrals by driver trainers and assessors.
Contact us if you want to find out more about any of these suggestions.
What can you do as a driver?
To be able to work into older age you could try to:
- Manage your working hours to reduce tiredness
- Use coping strategies that work for you when you are tired, such as taking a break
- Ask your employer to modify the tasks you do, or your shift patterns, to accommodate changing health needs
- Ensure the physical tasks you do are within your capabilities to minimise musculoskeletal disorders
- Take every opportunity to make time for exercise during the day, even if its just getting out of the cab and walking around the lorry
- Eat healthy food
- Participate in regular health checks
- Get involved with health programmes initiated by your manager and organisation
- Talk to your supervisors about health and wellbeing issues.