Improving the health and wellbeing of heavy vehicle operators

Public news

The health and wellbeing of employees should be high priority for any business and its employees.

It is important that you follow work, health and safety legislation, which the MTA can assist with, however there are instances where strenuous tasks have led to overuse of prescription medications following injury, as identified in a recent report.

A Monash University report has shown that heavy vehicle drivers are increasingly receiving more prescription (opioid) pain killers after a work related injury compared to employees in other industry sectors.

The report, Driving Health Use of Medications Following Work-related Injury and Illness in Truck Drivers (October 2019), also shows that one third of drivers who are prescribed opioid medications following an injury are still using them two and a half years later. You can access the Report by clicking here.

Most of the injuries identified are associated with musculoskeletal accidents and the report demonstrates that truck drivers may not be receiving care in line with proper medication use.

Dr Ross Iles, from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, said, "This report shows that injured drivers are not necessarily receiving care in line with recommended guidelines for medication use.”

"The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners guidelines suggest that opioid medications should be a short-term option and that long-term use should be uncommon."

Dr Ross said that the report also looked at anti-depressant use by heavy vehicle drivers and found that more than two thirds of anti-depressant prescriptions were for drivers who have musculoskeletal conditions.

Dr Ross said, "this report suggests mental health should be addressed as part of recovery.”

"We need to know more about the parts of the job that can be changed to prevent injury, and how we can speed up recovery when an injury does happen."

Monash University has partnered with the Centre for Work, Health and Safety, Linfox and the Transport Workers Union and has now launched Australia’s largest survey looking at the health of heavy vehicle drivers.

The Driving Health Survey is now open and researchers are looking to hear from more drivers to fully understand how to help them stay healthy at work.

Click here to access the survey.

The important message for members is that prevention of injury is the best remedy.

It is important that members are looking after the health and wellbeing of employees. Our WHS and RTW Coordinator, Cos Lamberto and our Workplace Relations team, work with a number of members to get people back to work.

Click here to contact Cos if you have any questions about returning to work following an injury.

We are also able to protect your staff and business with an independent and comprehensive WHS audit and report. Qualified MTA Workplace Relations Specialists can conduct assessments of your safety systems and provide practical advice to ensure you are meeting necessary requirements. A MTA WHS Audit will give you an Improvement Plan enabling you to:

  • Identify what safety measures need to be actioned within your workplace
  • Provide a safe workplace for employees and customers
  • Implement necessary safety improvements within your workplace
  • Protect yourself from breaches of WHS legislation

Click here to contact the WR team about performing a WHS Audit.