The COVID19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the challenges HGV drivers face every day. Currently, Brexit is only adding to them. This means that fleet managers need to place their drivers’ health and wellbeing at the top of their list of priorities. Here are some tips to help.
Understand Your Legal Responsibilities
Your duty of care towards your employees covers all aspects of their health and safety. This includes their mental health and wellness. Both legally and ethically, it makes sense to address your responsibilities proactively.
A proactive approach also tends to benefit your business overall since it results in happier and healthier employees. It can also benefit you if you need to make a significant insurance claim. Logically, the larger a claim is, the more likely it is to be investigated. You want this investigation to be as quick and painless as possible.
Understand The Challenges Drivers Face
There are three main challenges drivers regularly face. Firstly, there is the issue of lifestyle. When at work, they have to stick to a fairly rigid schedule. Rest and meal breaks have to be taken at mandated times. What’s more, drivers are likely to have little to no choice in where they sleep and eat. They also have limited opportunities for exercise.
Secondly, there’s the isolation. This can be compounded by being away from home. Even if people live alone, they will probably have some kind of social network around them. At a minimum, they will have their home comforts. Thirdly, there are active stressors including traffic, the weather and sometimes challenging customers.
Helping Drivers With Lifestyle Issues
Many of the lifestyle issues drivers face can be alleviated with good packing. Employers can help drivers pack effectively by creating suggested packing lists according to routes and seasons.
These could be a great help to new drivers and even experienced drivers might benefit from them. For example, they may not be up-to-date with technology and what it could do for them. Employers could also guide how to sleep, eat and exercise effectively while on the road.
Employers should also make sure that drivers have the practical ability to implement these suggestions. For example, make sure that they have enough space in their cab to store the equipment they’ll need to eat, sleep and exercise well in addition to the practical essentials of the job.
Helping Drivers With Isolation Issues
Make a point of checking in with drivers regularly while they’re out on the road. Encourage them to talk openly about any issues they have, whatever they are. Then do whatever you can to act on them.
You might also want to help your drivers to find ways to keep themselves occupied while on the road. For example, you could pay for, or at least subsidize, MP3 players. This would allow drivers to take their audio rather than having to rely on the radio and/or the internet.
Helping With Stress Issues
The key to minimizing stress for your drivers is to give them reasonable schedules. This means basing them on more than just distance. You should also take into account the state of the roads themselves, the traffic and the expected weather. You should also have contingency plans in case the weather changes.
Helping With Other Issues
Even with all this, you may still find drivers dealing with mental health issues. The best way to catch these is to check in with them regularly both formally and informally. Again, make sure that these check-ins are conducted in a safe and supportive way. Drivers must be able to trust you if they are to be completely honest with you.
Images courtesy of Depositphotos
Andrea Easton is the Head of Finance and Operations of Walker Movements, who are specialists in quality second-hand, used trucks and trailers and are global leaders in the trucking industry. Walker Movements have a true passion for the industry and make it their mission to answer any question customers can throw at them.