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How can transport companies encourage mindfulness and resilience to decrease driver fatigue? [Blog]

Naturally, employees of logistics and transport companies are at higher risk of fatigue due to the frequency and length of trips. Additionally, heavy vehicle collisions are dangerous and costly to all road users, with fatigue a major contributor. The impacts of which cannot be understated, with the annual cost of fatigue- and speed-related crashes estimated at around $300 million nationally. Although there are a number of industry initiatives in place to prevent fatigue-related heavy vehicle fatalities, the use of mindfulness and resilience initiatives is minimal.

What is mindfulness and resilience?

Mindfulness is a technique used to increase awareness of the present moment through focused attention. Mindfulness emphasises the need to pay attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them. Mindfulness has countless psychological, physical and social benefits. Research has demonstrated that mindfulness:

  • Helps with focus, improving memory and attention skills
  • Reduces stress and negative emotions while increasing positive emotions
  • Can enhance relationships and increase compassion and altruism, and
  • Boosts our immune system2.

Resilience refers to our capacity to adapt to changing or potentially difficult circumstances and to recover previous functioning. Both of these concepts have direct applications to driver fatigue, with the potential for a positive effect on many of the following contributing factors3:

  1. Disruptive rosters affecting sleep patterns
  2. Personal factors, including health, diet and lifestyle
  3. Driving longer than regulated hours
  4. Too little sleep
  5. Boredom

For example, adopting mindfulness – through increasing awareness in thought processes – will have a positive impact by helping drivers increase their attention on the task of driving. This will result in an increase in awareness for the environment around them and make risk identification easier.

Who takes responsibility?

As a driver, responsibilities for safe driving practices include compliance with relevant fatigue management work and rest laws, responding to changes in circumstance and environment, being medically fit and ensuring appropriate rest times3. At the individual level, workers may more easily adhere to these responsibilities through the development of mindfulness and resilience outside of work, achieved by regular practice of the following activities.

 

nine activities to help with stress and fatigue

 

It is not the sole responsibility of the driver to ensure safe practices, with onus also on the transport and logistic companies to support the well-being of its drivers. Transport and logistics companies can follow these three key steps to develop mindfulness and resilience in its employees:

  1. Use of management systems to prevent and reduce stress at work
  2. Use of learning and development initiatives to help managers and the workforce develop resilient behaviours
  3. Build a positive workplace culture to foster mindfulness and resilience4

With these practices embedded in an organisation, employees will be provided the best chance for high performance, and more importantly, limit the 30% of road fatalities due to driver fatigue. Furthermore, there is an opportunity to combine these practices with existing safe work initiatives to further reduce the risk of fatigue.  For example, this can be achieved though the provision of safe work training, as a compulsory component of the Australian WHS Act, where concepts of mindfulness and resilience can be included in the existing training program.

To find out more about implementing mindfulness and resilience into your organisation’s safe work practices, please contact TMS Consulting on solutions@tmsconsulting.com.au.

References
  1. Australian Transport Council (2011), National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020, p. 25
    https://www.allianz.com.au/car-insurance/news/importance-of-sleep-dangers-of-driver-fatigue
  2. Greater Good Magazine (2017), What is Mindfulness?
    http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition
  3. Programmed (2017), Transport, Logistics and Warehousing Module
    https://www.programmed.com.au/bas/iwf/transportlogisticsandwarehousing.pdf
  4. Skills For Care (2015), Greater resilience better care
    http://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Document-library/Skills/Mental-health/3.-What-can-I-do-as-an-employer-to-develop-the-resilience-of-the-people-who-work-for-me.pdf

 

Margie Quill (Support Consultant)

Margie is a Business (Economics/Management) Graduate, who is passionate about working with organisations to achieve organisational success through the implementation of organisational strategy and capability principles; leadership, culture and team development; and health, safety and wellbeing objectives. Margie specialises in tailored program planning and design for clients to ensure the provided program initiatives are effective and impactful. Margie also is skilled at quantifying cultural change after the implementation of our programs to determine improvement and provide recommendations that will enable organisations to achieve their chosen future state. Her experience has involved working on the following initiatives: Leadership Development Program for a State Government agency Professional Development Program for a large Bank Workforce Management Plan for a State Government agency Change Management Planning for an Australian Transport Company Leadership Development Program for a Power Generator Fatigue Management Services for a Mining Company