Health promotion in the transport and the workplace requires a holistic approach. Any initiatives should consider the worker’s private life, their working life, and the interaction between the two. Working conditions are known to influence the general health of workers; for example, sedentary work can contribute to obesity. Similarly, workers’ personal habits, attitudes and lifestyle choices affect their health and wellbeing, and also can have an impact on their work performance.
Promoting health at the workplace requires a holistic approach. Any initiatives should consider the worker’s private life, their working life, and the interaction between the two. Working conditions are known to influence the general health of workers; for example, sedentary work can contribute to obesity. Similarly, workers’ personal habits, attitudes and lifestyle choices affect their health and wellbeing, and also can have an impact on their work performance.
Workplace health promotion (WHP) can be defined as the ‘combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and wellbeing of people at work. This can be achieved by:
- improving the organisation of work and the working environment;
- promoting active participation of employees in health activities; and
- encouraging personal development.’
WHP includes introducing measures supporting health-enhancing behaviours and attitudes; promoting mental health and wellbeing, and work–life balance; and addressing issues related to work-related stress, ageing and staff development.
Transport is a male-dominated sector (83% of workers in the sector are men). Workers in this sector are exposed to prolonged sitting, tiring or painful positions, long working hours (average more than 48 hours a week) and nonstandard working hours (night and evening work, weekend work and more than 10 hours worked per day). Unsurprisingly, this sector scores relatively unfavourably on work–life balance.
In addition, drivers have limited opportunities to eat healthy meals and take exercise breaks while on the road.
The most common health problems reported by drivers are lower back pain, overweight, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and workrelated stress. These problems have been found to be linked to factors relating to the working environment (such as poor work organisation) and working conditions (static work), and to individual risk factors (such as lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, alcohol abuse, smoking, age and pre-existing
When developing WHP programmes it is of the utmost importance to consider the role and the impact of both organisational and individual-level factors on drivers’ health and wellbeing, and to address these factors.
A review of evidence-based case studies of WHP interventions found that several factors were key to their success:
- organisational commitment to improving the health of the workforce;
- appropriate information and comprehensive communication strategies to employees;
- employees’ involvement throughout the process;
- organisation of work tasks and processes contributing to health, rather than damaging it;
- implementation of practices which enhance healthy choices as the easiest choices.
However, a WHP programme may not replace the management of health and safety risks at work. Instead, it is complementary to proper risk management. Health aspects related to drivers’ occupation
In the transport sector, occupational risk factors can be divided into three groups: those that refer to (a) work; (b) the working environment; and (c) individual factors.