Transport companies keen to prevent critical illnesses in staff

Published 10 Feb 2015

WorkCover NSW has detailed the success stories of two transport companies that are among the 850 businesses pledging support for the state government's Get Healthy at Work scheme.

The $12 million initiative aims to assist organisations that are keen to enhance the health and wellbeing of employees, preventing them from developing critical illnesses.

Citing PricewaterhouseCoopers data, WorkCover said transport personnel are more prone to chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart conditions. It is therefore hoped more firms in the sector will sign up to Get Healthy at Work.

TNT Australia, one of the transport companies taking part, has already implemented improvements to its Enfield site to encourage people to exercise more and eat healthier food.

The Sydney-based operation has teamed up with local gyms and health insurers, overhauled the company's canteen menus and added colour-coded stickers to each truck that assist drivers in making the right food choices.

Chris Zichy-Woinarski, TNT general manager of workplace risk, said initial feedback on the scheme has been positive, with staff reporting they are happier, healthier and more engaged.

"The minute you start to take a sincere interest in your people, in turn they take a more sincere interest and investment in the company - and that's good for business," he explained.

Healthier workers are more productive

Carey's Freight Lines, based in Tamworth, has also taken advantage of the NSW government's health scheme, which provides access to an accredited workplace adviser.

Health, Safety and Compliance Manager of Carey's Freight Lines Marco Rindo said the organisation's drivers showed immediate enthusiasm for the initiative, especially a 'Biggest Loser' weight loss competition the firm ran.

He said: "Healthy workers are happier in their work, less likely to be home sick and also more productive when they are at work.

"For drivers in particular, a healthy, fitter worker is more alert and less likely to become fatigued and put at risk themselves or others on the road."

Peter Dunphy, general manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division, said transport is a high-risk industry for chronic diseases due to frequent shift work, long-haul journeys and poor dietary habits.

People who develop critical illnesses may have to take extended periods of time away from the workplace and could be entitled to compensation, which is why encouraging staff to have a healthy lifestyle is often beneficial to firms.

"Simply planning ahead for better food, or making healthier choices such as drinking water instead of soft drinks can have a huge impact on weight and general wellbeing," Mr Dunphy said.

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