Safety pros know that employees’ health is an important factor in their workplace safety. But how far should companies go to change workers’ personal habits, such as eating, for the sake of safety?
Here’s one link between employee wellness and safety: As obesity becomes more common, more employees may suffer from a condition that makes them sleepy at work.
People are considered at risk for sleep apnea if they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more and a neck circumference of 17 inches or more.
Someone 5 feet 10 inches tall would have a BMI of 30 if they weighed 209 pounds. (Click here for a BMI chart.)
In 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s medical review board recommended that commercial truck drivers with a BMI more than 30 be screened for sleep apnea. The FMCSA hasn’t adopted that recommendation, even though its own statistics show 26% of drivers suffer from the condition.
Some trucking firms are addressing the issue without government regulation. Schneider National recently started to diagnose and treat their drivers in an effort to reduce healthcare costs and reduce crash risks.
Schneider found 17% of its drivers had sleep apnea. Because of its program, the company has seen a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of crashes.
Drivers diagnosed with sleep apnea are required by the FMCSA to be disqualified until it’s been treated. However, a test for sleep apnea isn’t included in the licensing process for commercial drivers.
With a lack of regulations, it’s up to companies to decide how to address this wellness-safety link, not to mention others.
Does your company have a wellness program for employees? Do you think such programs help decrease the risk of certain types of workplace injuries? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.