Healthier Truckers Means Safer Roads. How Employers Can Do Their Part

By: | November 21, 2022

Jenifer Palacio is an account manager for the Risk Cooperative, based in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at [email protected].

As the U.S. nears the end of a tumultuous 2022, remote work, quiet quitting and labor shortages have been some of the common themes facing employers and employees alike.

The trucking industry has been particularly impacted, experiencing record shipping demand in the early days of the pandemic, but now seeing a sharp decrease in demand as consumers pull back from ecommerce spending in an inflationary environment.

While trucking companies can breathe a sigh of relief as the decrease in shipping demand coincides with the ongoing dearth of truck drivers, these logistics companies should continue to improve trucker employment benefits to attract and retain drivers when shipping demand inevitably returns.

Several large retailers, such as Walmart, offer generous benefits like health care, increased pay, and access to free driver programs that prepare new drivers to earn their commercial driver’s license. We are seeing companies like J.B. Hunt that are offering $5,000 sign-on bonuses. However, Walmart and other large retailers tend to be the exception; the vast majority of drivers work long hours, and like flight attendants being compensated only when they are airborne, these truckers are only paid for the time they are actually driving.

Due to the high competition, drivers are bidding on new contracts that require taking long hauls just to make a profit.

Truckers, especially long-haulers, face extreme health risks due to their lifestyle; hypertension, insomnia, sleep apnea, stress/depression, arthritis, poor dietary regimen are rampant among drivers. This poses a health risk not only for the truckers but also puts the safety of other drivers on the road at risk.

In the past, former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Chief Anne Ferro and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood have stated that life expectancy for truckers is 16 years shorter than all other occupations.

Lack of adequate health care coverage is a major issue impacting truckers not affiliated with major retailers or trucking companies, and this has been a growing concern for several years.

Identifying job perks that are appropriate and appealing for truckers is a unique challenge, given the nature of the job.

Tech firms were able to quickly pivot to remote work during the pandemic and have evolved to some derivative of a hybrid work model ever since. Likewise, restaurants and grocery stores relied on smartphone apps and delivery services to transport their products.

Truckers do not have the ability to work from home; in fact the very nature of their job requires them to spend more time on the road, and driving restrictions were even lifted during the pandemic due to their essential work.

While perks like remote work may be unrealistic for drivers, the greatest benefit companies can offer truckers is adequate health care, with a focus on preventative health care.

At certain truck stops, transportation companies could offer healthy meal kits, provide yoga classes and stretching workshops. In select locations, they could even provide nutritionists to answer questions truckers have about their wellbeing.  It is important for these transportation companies to work in conjunction with their insurance carriers to prioritize and implement preventative health and wellness care that is accessible and tailored to the needs of their workforce.

The healthier truckers are, the less claims insurers will pay, and the safer America’s roads will be. &

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