In October 2017, the WSIB released a new policy that covered mental stress. The Chronic Mental Stress policy and the revised Traumatic Mental Stress policy became effective January 1st of this year.
So how does this new policy work? To be eligible for these WSIB benefits, a chronic mental stress must be predominantly caused by a “substantial work-related stressor”. Here are a few examples of work-related chronic mental stress we found on the WSIB website:
- A teacher is the subject of demeaning comments from her vice-principal on a regular basis, quite often in front of her teaching colleagues and develops an anxiety disorder as a result.
- A housekeeping attendant is the subject of inappropriate and harassing comments from several co-workers on a regular basis. He attempts to confront his co-workers but the harassment continues and in fact increases, and he develops a depression disorder as a result.
In response to some of the WSIB changes, NAL Insurance and Healthy Trucker, in partnership with Morneau Shepell have launched the first assistance program for Owner Operators called the Healthy Trucker Assistance Program (HTAP). In addition to helping an O/O’s gain a healthier lifestyle through educating and coaching, this new program also offers 24 hour counselling services for stress, depression, anxiety or any other issues that can impact their mental health. A healthier driver (mentally and physically) will have fewer accidents that results in fewer injury claims and reduce turnover.
Studies show that trucking industry has some major driver health issues that are increasing our driver shortage. Some of these driver health issues are:
- Over 28% suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea (ATRI, 2002)
- Between 15%-24% suffer from depression (M. Shatell, 2012)
- More than 69% are classified as obese (National Institute of Health, 2014)
- 22% have hypertension (National Institute of Health, 2014)
- 51% are smokers (National Institute of Health, 2014)
- 14% have diabetes (National Institute of Health, 2014)
Although Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) have been around for years, these type of program are only normally offered to employees of the company as offering an EAP to an O/O’s could impact their independent status. The HTAP has been designed specifically for O/O’s to help them with their physical and mental health.
“It’s our goal to create a better work life balance for professional truck drivers,” said Aaron Lindsay, VP of Marketing at Healthy Trucker. Lindsay added, “These men and women are faced with some tough obstacles, including spending time away from family, loads of paperwork, and demanding schedules. We want to be there to take some of this stress away so that our members can do what they do best… drive safely!”
“Working with Healthy Trucker allows us to reach independent contractors and company drivers in a new way. Healthy Trucker recognizes the unique challenges drivers face and the HTAP will provide drivers with accessible, flexible and impactful support. We are confident that this new assistance program will improve engagement and the health of drivers,” commented Greg Schneider, account executive at Morneau Shepell.
Fleets are encouraged to include the HTAP as part of the O/O’s WSIB Alternative or Primary Insurance Premiums. Doing so may just help maintain both of these premiums moving forward.