We’ve all heard the saying…having all the money in the world means nothing…if you don’t have your health.
Driver Health and Wellness seems to be the talk everywhere we turn and driver retention continues to be a concern for most fleets. It’s important to focus on the normal key areas as to why O/O’s and Drivers leave their companies, such as driver pay, better benefits, more miles, home time and how they are treated as individuals. However, what needs to be
addressed is the amount of drivers that the industry is losing due to poor health issues or worse yet, premature death.
The numbers are shocking. Our last Driving for Profit featured a Health and Wellness panel where experts from Erb Transport, Brian Kurtz Trucking and Prime Inc. shared what they were doing at their respective companies to help their drivers gain and maintain better health. One statistic that was addressed was that the average lifespan of a professional driver today is only 61 years of age! This was shocking to us and everyone that attended, especially when we see that the average age of our member is already 57.
Let’s face it, working conditions and the hectic schedules O/O’s and Drivers are facing on the road are not always cohesive to a healthy lifestyle. There only seems to be so many hours in the day (especially under the new HOS) and dispatch always wants the load to be on time. Drivers tend to eat when they have the chance which results in their meal and snack choices being selected more out of convenience, which isn’t that healthy VS actually grabbing a healthy snack or sitting down to a healthier meal.
NAL Insurance is the leading provider of WSIB Alternative solutions for fleets in Canada. One unique feature of our service is that we handle all claims internally and pay the O/O directly on a monthly basis. Because we see the claim from beginning to end, we also see all the medical records from our clients Physician’s and how the weight and overall health of the O/O has a direct correlation to the length of time that they will be off work due to an injury. In many cases, O/O’s that are obese or smokers take 2-3 times longer to heal from an injury than healthier O/O’s.
We all know that insurance companies charge more for life insurance or may rate a client based on their over health under an illness policy but to date, this hasn’t been something that has been taken into consideration with accident disability insurance.
As a result, NAL Insurance wants to try and help pave the road to a healthier lifestyle and will be introducing the Healthy Trucker (health and wellness) program to the Canadian Trucking Industry. With the help of a number of our pilot fleets including Bison Transport, Challenger, FTI, Quik X, ICI, ITS, Doug Coleman Trucking as well as our good friends at Truck News and The Rear View Mirror that have agreed to take part in our pilot program, we hope to develop a trucking specific yet affordable Health and Wellness program for the entire industry.
O/O’s, Drivers, Executive and Staff that have agreed to participated in the 13 week pilot program will complete a questionnaire so that our Registered Dietitian’s (RD’s) can learn more about their health goals, lifestyle conditions, dietary preferences/ restrictions and existing health issues (such as high blood pressure or diabetes).
Applicants with then be matched to the best RD’s for them based on geographic location and what they want to achieve. RD’s will learn about their eating and activity habits, and create special meal plans to help facilitate healthy changes. They will walk the members through their nutrition profiles to understand what changes should be made and why, for example, portion sizes, daily goals, and healthy recipes to incorporate. Nutrition profiles will serve as a roadmap to help them reach their goals, including target calorie count, protein/carbohydrate/sugar distribution and foods to include/exclude. Most Drivers know when they need to be healthier. It’s the how that’s hard, and that’s where our RD’s and Coaches will come in. Their roll will be to help motivate the drivers to keep making realistic changes but not overwhelming them with unrealistic diets that tend to fail in the long run. The RD’s will act as both nutrition experts and motivational coaches—so they’re available every step of the way. Participants will be asked to update their RD`s on daily basis through an on-line daily food and exercise log.
Many of us in our office have had a head start to the program and the results so far have been incredible.Many have changed their eating/snack habits and able to notice the loss in weight. Each month we hold a staff meeting and instead of pizza we now cater pita’s and salad. Instead of muffins or bagels we keep veggies and fruit and nuts in the kitchen.
Although there are a number of off the shelf Health and Wellness programs available today, there really isn’t anything specifically designed to fit the hectic lifestyle of an O/O or Driver. The goal will be to use the information and data from our pilot project so that we can create a program that will work for the entire trucking industry.
Still asking what’s your weight got to do with it? Be sure to keep watching the Truck News and Rearview Mirror blogs and you’ll find out how we can all start paving the road to a healthier lifestyle.
By Glenn Caldwell