HEALTH and safety for truck drivers is the centre of a research project that recently won a $609,000 National Health and Medical Research Council grant.

NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the Centre for Work Health and Safety had joined forces with Monash University, Linfox and the Transport Workers Union to deliver the Driving Health project.

“This NHMRC grant means the Centre can work with the research partners to undertake interviews with drivers, their employers and contractors, as well as family members with the intention of developing interventions to improve the physical and mental health of truck drivers,” Mr Anderson said.

“This project between the Centre and its partners cannot be understated when we look at the importance of the road transport industry to our economy.”

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Mr Anderson said between 2004 and 2015 there were more than 120,000 accepted workers compensation claims lodged by truck drivers across the country.

“Rather than focussing on safety outcomes related to crashes, near misses, fatalities and traumatic injuries, this study will identify opportunities to improve health and wellbeing among truck drivers,” he said.

The project has identified just 17% of the burden of disability due to injury and disease as the result of crashes.

Musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain, account for more than 76,000 lost working weeks a year.

Linfox Australia and New Zealand chief executive Mark Mazurek said the industry needed to take a more proactive approach.

Australian truck drivers are particularly vulnerable so it’s important the industry works together to target and mitigate risks to their health, safety and wellbeing,” Mr Mazurek said.

“This includes understanding the risk factors and ensuring greater access to health support services.”

National secretary of the Transport Workers Union Michael Kaine said poor health among drivers was an indicator of the crisis in road transport.

Study lead Dr Ross Iles from Monash University said more needed to be done to understand the challenges faced by truck drivers. More information can be obtained by visiting the Centre for Work Health and Safety website at www.centreforwhs.nsw.gov.au.

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