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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

HGV employers must support the health of drivers as they work into older age

8 May 2018

The transport and logistics sector in the UK is experiencing a rise in average workforce age according to research by Alliance Manchester Business School and the Health and Safety Executive.

A new study, co-authored by Dr Sheena Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School, identified both positive and negative health effects from the profession.   Whilst there is the potential for the health of HGV drivers to deteriorate in older age, the findings also showed that if the work is carefully managed and involves an appropriate amount of physical work, then this helps drivers to remain fit and strong and to keep their weight down, as they continue to work into older age.

Dr Johnson explained: “We found that the work of a professional HGV driver in the UK is likely to involve long, unsociable hours, high physical and mental demands, and often long periods of sedentary work. All of these factors can have adverse health consequences for workers, such as musculoskeletal disorders; stress; tiredness and fatigue; and issues associated with being overweight.”

The overall purpose of the research was to gather evidence about the health effects of working into older age. Dr Johnson focused on the transport and logistics sector and carried out interviews with professional drivers of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) aged over fifty, as well as those who manage or supervise them.

The second phase of the research, looking at other types of professional drivers, is ongoing and Dr Johnson is establishing a network to promote best practice in the transport industry entitled ‘Age, Health and Professional Drivers’. MICRA are hosting a seminar led by Dr Johnson of the same name on 7 June 2018 where we will explore these issues.

Dr Johnson has urged employers to make it easier for drivers to access healthy food and chances to exercise: “It is important that HGV employers support the health of this cohort of workers by focusing on providing opportunities to take physical activity during the working day and improving access to healthy food. It is also important we consider how the wider social and cultural aspects of the industry might be adapted to support good health as people work into older age.”

To join, or find out more about, the ‘Age, Health and Professional Drivers’ Network, email sheena.johnson@manchester.ac.uk.

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