Truck driver well-being program launches

The OzHelp Foundation in collaboration with truck drivers, their families, and researchers, have developed a health and wellbeing program to support truck drivers.

Launched today, Health in Gear, as it is known, provides online resources, roadside health checks, and a support line for owner drivers and their immediate family members.

OzHelp CEO, Darren Black said Health in Gear is about assisting truck drivers to be as well as they can be, taking into account the unique challenges they face each day.

“Our research uncovered systemic issues across the industry and by working with driver focus groups we’ve developed tips and tools to support drivers in improving and maintaining their health and wellbeing, even during the toughest of times,” he said.

A key element to the program is the Truckie Tune Up, a mobile health check, with the pilot starting at select sites across ACT and NSW next month.

“These Tune Ups provide drivers with an opportunity give their own health the same attention they would give their vehicles, hence the Truckie Tune Up,” said Black.

“Drivers are often on the road for long periods of time so by taking services to them, our team can provide health checks, and referrals as required.

“The health checks are a chance for drivers to have a chat and connect with someone who understands the industry. Follow-ups can be arranged, and ongoing support is available through our 1800 IN GEAR support line.”

A literature review published by OzHelp found truck drivers are subject to constant time pressures, long shifts, tight deadlines, and isolation which can lead to depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.

Truck drivers are at a higher risk of obesity and developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, mental-ill health, and cardiovascular health issues, and nationally truck drivers represent the second-highest occupational group, after construction workers, at risk of suicide.

Health in Gear is an initiative of the OzHelp Foundation, a national mental health and suicide prevention organisation.

The program is funded through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI), funded by the Australian Government.

The University of Wollongong has collaborated with OzHelp to develop and evaluate the program.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the Health in Gear program was an important initiative to ensure owner-drivers and their families had access to the best possible information, resources and support while on the road.

“We know that healthy drivers are safer drivers, and that all starts with good mental health and wellbeing,” Petroccitto said.

“The nature of the job means truckies and their families face some unique challenges, and the NHVR is committed to supporting initiatives like OzHelp’s Health in Gear program to ensure help is available when it’s needed,” he said.

“Over the last five years the HVSI has provided $22.8 million for 89 grants, each one of which is helping to save lives and make our roads safer.”