Linfox Logistics together with Monash University and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) have partnered up to support research on the health of workers in the transport industry.
The research forms part of a detailed national study and the first report of the National Transport Industry Health and Wellbeing Study.
The report reveals that transport workers are five times more likely to be injured at work than other Australian workers and rail drivers are 30 times more likely to develop a mental health condition than any other worker.
It seems the most common concern for all transport worker groups is musculoskeletal conditions which was a common injury across all groups in the sector.
While the high rate of injury is of no surprise, taking into account that the transport and logistics industry is the second-highest ranked for workplace fatalities, it is alarming how far ahead the rate of fatalities in the industry are.
Linfox Logistics general manager of HR Lauren Pemberton had this to say about the study,
“This study forms part of our ongoing work to develop proactive strategies that empower our people to look after themselves and each other,”
“Gaining deeper insights into common risk factors will allow us to refine our strategies and help shape the future health of our industry.”
Alex Collie, professor and director of the Insurance Work and Health Group at Monash University said workers in the transport industry are subject to health risks that are unique to their working environment -elements such as the sedentary nature of the job, long working hours, shift work, isolation, fatigue and sleep deprivation.
Taking these elements into account, the study looks into the health of people in the transport and logistics industry and aims to develop better ways to help them. He goes on to explain,
“This study presents a national picture of the health of people working in the transport and logistics industry,” Collie says.
“Prior studies have focused on safety and on specific groups of workers. We used a large and detailed national database of work injury claims to examine a range of different injuries and diseases that affect workers across the whole industry.
“Our ultimate aim is to develop programs and services that can prevent illness and injury in the transport sector, and help people recover and return to work when they become sick.”
Mr Collie goes on to explain that there is a strong link between people’s health and their ability to work. Understanding and thereby improving the health of people in an industry employing 1.2 million people is crucial not only for workers themselves but employers and the Australian economy as a whole.
The Transport Workers Union was also involved in the study, with its national assistant secretary Michael Kaine saying that the research highlights the pressure on transport workers. Factors including long hours away from family, chronic fatigue and deadline stresses are having an impact on these workers.
“It should serve as yet another example of the need for a check on the transport supply chain, to ensure that the major clients at the top are being held to account for the pressure they exert on the industry and its workforce.”
The report finds that of the 3.5 million total accepted workers’ compensation claims in Australia during 2004-2015, 249,000, or 7.2 per cent, were from people employed in the ‘Transport, postal and warehousing’ industry, Mr Kaine said.