Driving a waste collection vehicle is physically demanding work that requires focus a ...
nd strength. Chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking related disease, can impact a driver’s ability to perform his or her job. Keeping fit by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep will help drivers safely and effectively complete their routes.
By Will Flower
Workers in the solid waste and recycling industry have some of the most physically demanding jobs in the U.S. Continually lifting and climbing in and out of trucks, payloaders, compactors, and other heavy equipment strains and stresses the body. Physical conditioning and stamina are basic requirements of our profession. That said, getting in and staying in good physical condition can be a challenge.
Supervisors and safety managers should encourage good physical fitness for everyone in the workplace including drivers and helpers who are on the routes, people who are working at landfill transfer stations and recycling centers, as well as employees inside the office. However, simply telling employees to “get in shape” will not go too far. Employees need to understand the importance of physical conditioning and the benefits associated with being in shape. There are a number of good reasons why fitness matters:
1. Fit employees are less likely to get sick
2. Fit employees have more energy
3. Fit employees are alert employees
4. Fit employees tend to have better attitudes
5. Fit employees are less stressed
6. Fit employees tend to set goals and achieve objectives
A successful fitness program starts with some planning and preparation. Consider these tips:
• Set goals—Employees working individually or together need to set some goals and objectives for fitness.
• Encourage teamwork—Peer pressure can work in positive ways. People are more likely to get going when they are accountable to someone else. Working out with a group or a buddy can lead to successful and long-term fitness.
Use a balanced approach—Fitness programs that focus on building muscle, strengthening the body’s core and developing endurance are essential.
• Motivate—Encouraging some healthy competition among employees usually works given the competitive nature that exists among employees.
In addition to exercise, drivers and helpers must eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water to stay fit. Drivers who are short on time and frequent convenient stores or fast food restaurants may not be making healthy choices. The good news is that many fast food establishments now offer some healthy options on their menus. Workers can also pack their own healthy foods and snacks.
Walk the Talk
Staying in shape requires a combination of eating right and exercise. Promoting good physical conditioning is not just good for employees’ bodies, it is also good for business. Companies that “walk the talk” and really care about people will capture the benefits of a healthy workforce, including fewer injuries, lower insurance premiums and improved teamwork. | WA
Next month’s safety tip will focus safety at recycling facilities.
Is your body ready for summer?
Are you ready for it? Long days, lush scenery, heat s ...
himmer in the distance, sun glinting off cars and RVs, construction crews, detours, lost drivers making last-second lane changes, accidents and emergency vehicles. It’s summer, in all its glory, bringing its particular challenges for professional drivers.
Brad Zall, Health and Safety Advisor at SafetyDriven and a former heavy- and long-haul driver, says “one of the most important things you can do for yourself in the summer is to take care of your body.” Be healthy to be your best on the road.
Keep your cool with these tips:
Maintain healthy habits.
Being in general good health will keep your energy up and support your mood.
• Nutrition. Good nutrition is always important, but being on the road makes healthy eating difficult. Pack healthy foods if you’re cooking for yourself. If you aren’t, make wise choices in restaurants—choose white meat over red, whole grain over white, roasted over fried. Good nutrition will keep your body operating smoothly!
• Hydration. Staying hydrated can be difficult. Be sure to drink plenty of water—don’t wait till you’re really thirsty to drink up. With fresh fruits and vegetables in season, you can eat some of your water. Food high in water includes tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, citrus fruit, cucumber, lettuce, and celery.
• Exercise. Sitting for long stretches is hard on the body. Ideally, we should get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. A little imagination will get you there! Do push-ups off the side of the truck, find a safe space at a rest stop and hold a plank position as long as you can, raise knees alternately to your hands held at waist level for 60 seconds. Walk a mile by doing 32 laps around your tractor trailer.
• Rest. During sleep, your brain does its housekeeping, getting rid of clutter and setting you up for the next day, boosting your immune system and improving reaction time. Stick to a routine, eat light dinners, and avoid screens before bed, especially if your long haul has you crossing time zones. Meditation, or quiet time, can help you sleep.
Respect the sun.
This isn’t a yoga pose! As Zall notes, some of your tasks are physically demanding, especially in the heat; he points out tarping and strapping down a load. While a little sun is good for us, too much can cause problems.
• Sunburn. A sunburn can be distracting. Prevent burns and “trucker’s arm” by using sunscreen, wearing long-sleeved shirts, and wearing sunglasses with UV protection (eyes burn, too). Staying hydrated can make sunburns less intense. Include sunburn remedies in your first aid kit.
• Heat exhaustion. Working in the hot sun can cause your body to overheat, leading to heat exhaustion. Prevent overheating; stay hydrated, work in the shade when possible, wear loose, light clothing and a hat, protect against sunburn, and take breaks with your A/C on.
Zall reminds drivers to stay safe by being prepared. “Pack lots of water for your work day” and be sure to eat well, exercise, and rest.
You can depend on SafetyDriven.ca for all your safety needs.