High blood pressure — A hidden danger for your truck drivers

Doctor with patientIf you’re running a logistics business or division, you know how important it is to have reliable and healthy truck drivers. Although most health conditions are easy to diagnose and treat, there’s one in particular that’s tricky to spot — High blood pressure. That’s because high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) often doesn’t show any symptoms, and that’s a real problem.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to significant problems for your truck drivers including:

  • An enlarged heart, a big risk for heart failure.
  • Aneurysms in blood vessels, which can be fatal.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Vision problems and blindness.

It’s estimated that over 65 million Americans (around a third of the adult population) have high blood pressure, and one in three of those people aren’t aware they’re affected.

Why high blood pressure is a real issue for truck drivers
Truck drivers have a greater risk of high blood pressure than others, mainly due to the nature of their work. Some of the causes of high blood pressure include:

  • A poor diet with too much salt — Eating healthily on the road is a real challenge, and many truck drivers will opt for fast food. Unfortunately, the high proportion of salt and lack of other nutrients is a risk factor.
  • Too much alcohol – We hope you already have drug and alcohol testing policy and procedures in place to ensure no drinking on the job, but you can’t control what happens after hours.
  • Lack of exercise — Spending almost all of their working life behind the wheel of a truck leaves little time for exercise. Being overweight or obese significantly increases the chances of high blood pressure.
  • Stress and anxiety — Dealing with other road users can create significant stress for long-haul truck drivers.

Dealing with high blood pressure issues for your drivers
As with most health issues, prevention is much better than cure. That’s why taking a few simple steps could reduce the risk of high blood pressure in your drivers, help them stay healthy, and reduce downtime due to sickness. Some of the steps you can take include:

  • Education and training — Let your truck drivers know about the risks of high blood pressure including why and how they could be impacted. Encourage them to get tested and provide clear, simple ways for them to get training on how to avoid the issue.
  • Policy changes — Introduce policies that encourage healthier behavior. Give truck drivers a 30 or 45 minute break each day that they can use to exercise. Incentivize them to eat more healthily by providing discounts for particular types of restaurants or meals.
  • Support and resources — Get some help in place. Arrange for a nurse to come on site to provide blood pressure testing and personalized advice on what your truck drivers can do. Provide maps of where to find restaurants with healthy eating options on the popular trucking routes. Introduce a formal wellness program into your workplace.
  • Health insurance and medication — Even with all these preventative measures, you will still have some drivers who develop high blood pressure problems. In those cases, you’ll want to ensure they have the right health insurance and get access to the doctors and medications they need to control their medical conditions.

If you want to keep your truck drivers healthy and happy, you can start right now. Just using one or two of these suggestions could significantly reduce the frequency and impact of high blood pressure problems. That means healthier employees, less time off sick, and a more efficient trucking operation.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

blood pressure trucking

Help your employees get the most out of their benefits

Help your employees get the most out of their benefitsSmart business owners know that to attract and retain quality employees, they must provide a congenial working environment where employees can find opportunity for growth, success, and professional satisfaction.

Happy, healthy, productive employees make a business stronger and translate into profits and organizational success.

Obviously, base compensation is a key recruitment and retention tool and must be competitive, but owners who fear being priced out of the skilled labor pool are not alone. Employers are increasingly focusing on boosting benefit packages, in lieu of significant wage increases, to keep staff happy. The good news is, when promoted correctly, those benefits can begin to match salary as a key factor in employee satisfaction.

Along with making the investment in offering your employees more, internal communication and education about how and why to use these benefits will help increase adoption rate and employee satisfaction.

Wellness programs: Incentivize it!Wellness programs, which promote healthy habits and long-term positive change, are one of our top recommendations for bottom-line success. Quite simply, healthy employees are productive employees, and wellness programs create a fruitful partnership between management and staff. They are not without investment: smoking cessation programs, complimentary weekly healthy lunches, and gym membership reimbursement are just some of the ways you can invest. But like all good resolutions, the hardest part is sticking to it. Consider developing creative ways to encourage employees to take advantage of those offerings, plus routine medical screenings.

Take a vacation, really! — You offer paid time off, adding more days as a reward for Help your employees get the most out of their benefitsseniority and milestones. The problem is…your employees aren’t using it, even when they say they are. This is a uniquely American problem and it is nothing to be proud of. The productivity level of stressed out, always-on employees, no matter how dedicated and talented, will suffer, costing you in the long run. Make vacation and breaks away from the office a part of your company’s culture. Owners and other senior staff can set a good example by being conspicuously absent for vacation, even if secretly checking in via smartphone. The key is balance, which will never exist if nobody ever leaves the office. 

Take this free money, please! — Americans are woefully, frightfully unprepared for retirement, so much so that the Golden Years are much more likely to be the Leaden Years. According to the National Institute on Retirement Safety, the median retirement account balance is $3,000 for working-age households and $12,000 for “near retirement” households. If you offer a match in your 401(k)/403(b) retirement plan (and if you don’t, let’s talk about the tax benefits you’re missing out on), include that match when you cite a position’s salary. Help new hires and existing employees alike by making them realize that not participating is the same thing as voluntarily cutting pay.

We’ll pay you to learn! — Younger employees may not cite professional development opportunities as a top job benefit, but they’ll quickly grow to love it once taking part. Furthering the education and real-world experience of staff at all levels provides personal growth while making your business that much smarter. Don’t just say you offer professional development opportunities, make it part of your HR function to proactively encourage and schedule relevant conferences and classes for employees.

Looking for more ways to help your staff get the most out of benefits? We can help.

Matt Bauer

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management
mbauer@srfm.com