Back spasms, broken bones and missing limbs are the types of injuries which were the primary cause for a worker to go on disability; back in the day when people walked uphill to work – both ways.
It has been reported on a few occasions, in the present day the fastest growing category of disability claims and missed workdays is related to mental health; and more specifically – stress.
It has also been estimated by the World Health Organization, by 2020 depression will rank only behind heart disease as the leading cause of disability. Which is depressing news for the manufacturing industry.
A recent study completed by the University of Montreal pegged the factory worker as the most stressful occupation in Canada.
While manufacturing and labour employees were the most likely to report poor mental health; managers in production, manufacturing and utilities sat alongside police officers and firefighters as the most mentally fit occupations.
Truckers meanwhile, sat around the halfway position of the top 10 list; but it’s the top 10 of the poor mental health side of the spectrum.
The manufacturing industry has been producing uncertainty for its employees of late, which according to experts is cause for the mental unrest among workers.
Increased offshore imports and the appreciation of the Canadian dollar against its US counterpart, as well as job cutbacks, have all contributed to anxiety about job security.
Unsure of how long an employment period will last, would raise the level of stress for just about anyone. But in an industry with a highly publicized worker shortage, what is causing the level of stress to be heightened in the trucking industry?
While a tumultuous manufacturing industry has been dealing with a number of factors reducing the overall efficiency of the sector, the trucking industry has remained in a relatively positive position regarding overall work production.
Even in the most people-friendly work environments, there are bound to be one or two people who will find something dissatisfying enough to publicly complain.
But to enter into the top 10-side of a survey dedicated to poor mental health, it would have taken more than one or two truckers to be dissatisfied.
Although contoured, air suspension seats may be reducing the number of workdays lost to back strain in the trucking industry; it obviously isn’t enough to reduce a significant amount of mental strain placed on truck drivers.
A comfortable chair, freedom from constant face-time with the boss, a personally controlled climate, travelling opportunities…there are lots of perks to being a truck driver, but it obviously is not enough to offset negative aspects drivers are feeling could potentially burn them out.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, most high-risk occupations for stress are due to employees who exert a lot of effort, but receive a small award. However, it is also noted any job can be altered to reduce the amount of stress because it is not the work, it is the way it is organized that matters.
A mentally healthy truck driver would not have to miss days of work due to stress and would more than likely be more productive while on the job.
Just as ergonomic cabs and air suspension seats were introduced to decrease absenteeism due to back pain, it’s time the trucking industry found a way to introduce measures to reduce mental stress; and next time be in the middle of a top 10 list for positive mental health.
– Steven Macleod can be reached by phone at (403) 275-3160 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News