Stress. We all deal with it. Much has been written about the stress and challenges fleet managers' face on a day-to-day basis, but what about the drivers?
First, what is stress? Stress is a body's way of coping with forces on the inside or in the outside world affecting an individual. According to www.medicinenet.com, because of the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.
Work truck drivers face a disproportionately high risk of fatal crash-related injuries and serious health disorders, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2008, this segment of the work force had a fatality rate of 22.8 percent. The CDC noted the 2004 fatality rate was 48.2 per 100,000 workers, approximately 11 times the rate for the general worker population.
Excessive stress in the workplace can have undesirable consequences on mental and physical health. Truck drivers deal with stress from traffic, delivery timing ("Am I going to be late?"), bad weather, rude people on the road or customers, long and irregular hours, lack of sleep, and tight areas to maneuver within. Add the responsibility for a piece of equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars, and you have a hot-bed for stress.
Obviously we can see the impact on drivers, but how can this impact the company? According to a study by the American Society of Safety Engineers, if employees experience an inordinate amount of stress, the stress factor will greatly influence a company's economics. This can include, but is not limited to, increased Workers' Compensation claims, absenteeism, poor customer service, and decreased driver retention rates. All these factors can also lead to job "burnout" as well.
Here are a few stress relief tips to share with your work truck drivers:
1. Do whatever possible to improve route and trip planning. When drivers worry about whether they will make it to their next stop on time, they may begin to rush, skip safety checks, or drive irresponsibly to get to the next stop. Better route and trip planning can help take this stress off the driver.
2. Get out and exercise! Recommend to your truck drivers that they take a quick walk on breaks. A few laps around the truck (while doing safety checks) gets the blood pumping and heart working.
3. Recommend healthier eating habits. While this can be difficult for truck drivers on the road, it's not impossible. Some recommendations include keeping a small cooler in the vehicle with ice packs and filling it with bottled water and fruit for snacks.
4. Overall, try to stay positive. Today might not be the best day ever, but tomorrow is a new day.
Are you currently working to reduce driver stress? What actions are you taking? Let me know!
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