Semi Social: To Your Health

April 15, 2012

Organization Focuses On Improving Trucker Health

By Tom Kelley

It’s no secret that the demands of working in the trucking industry can be tough on your health, but not all of the health impacts are beyond a driver’s control. Truckers like Jeff Clark (see January 2012 Semi Social) have proven that it’s possible to get plenty of exercise while on the road, and several other health concerns including diet, posture, proper lifting, and ingress/egress are solely under the driver’s control.

Since the dawn of long-haul trucking, sleep has been a low priority when it came to scheduling a driver’s route. Sure there are regulations that promise to ensure drivers are well-rested, but some aspects of these regulations end up working directly against the stated goal.

Even with a less than optimum schedule, drivers can still do a lot to make sure the sleep they do get is as beneficial as possible. From solutions as simple as getting a high-quality mattress or noise-cancelling headphones, or as complex as medical screening for sleep issues, a savvy driver can make at least some impact on sleep quality, and as a result, improve his health.

Another issue faced by long-haul truckers is the simple lack of access to healthcare professionals within the confines of less than optimal schedules, and in truck friendly locations. In the recent past, some of the top truck stops around the country have opened on-site clinics, but these are few and far between, compared to the need for such services.

There is at least one organization working to address some of the health issues faced by truckers by reaching out to truckers with information about maintaining health on the road, and about access to conveniently located healthcare facilities.

Originally founded in 1997 to represent non-company drivers, the leadership of the Independent Contractor Owner Operator Association quickly determined that the biggest issues facing their members and truckers in general were health and wellness. After taking on these issues as a primary goal, the group was renamed the Healthy Trucking Association of America (HTAA), to better reflect it’s mission.

The HTAA’s mission is to offer programs to improve the health of professional drivers and to serve as an authority on driver health and wellness issues.

While the group’s charter members include many of the country’s top fleets, a significant level of support and knowledge is provided by affiliate members including convenient care facilities (CVS Minute Clinics, Walgreen’s Take Care Systems, and similar independent clinics), as well as other healthcare service/product providers. Drivers and/or fleets can join the organization, but much of the information on the site is accessible without a membership.

Among the free resources on the website are interactive map applications for locating the nearest convenient care facility, a pharmacy locator and prescription discount plan, and links to comprehensive medical information. In addition to news about upcoming HTAA events, a monthly newsletter also provides drivers with tips about health, wellness, exercise and diet.

In addition to the resources available on the website, the group also hosts an annual Health Trucking Summit event. The annual event brings together truck industry personnel including human resource directors, safety directors, recruitment/retention managers, as well as other fleet executives and industry leaders to learn about driver health improvement resources. HTAA also maintains a presence at all major truck shows to get its message out to the trucking industry’s front lines.

Check it out at healthytruck.org on the web.