In transport, as with any business, it’s important to look after your equipment and keep it in good working order to prevent breakdowns. While we have covered a few good tips on how to do this with machinery, there are also some other rather Important assets in any business that should be looked after- the people. Whether you work as a one man operation, or employ 100 people to keep your business performing, it is important to consider the long term health of your staff.
The transport industry is a particularly tough one when it comes to finding time to look after yourself. The hours that we work can be ridiculous, whether you’re out on the road or in the office. For many owner operators, the reality is that are looking after both sides of the business, and burning the midnight oil to make sure everything gets done. This is a dangerous situation, and can lead to health issues, maybe not this week, but certainly down the track. Let’s take a look at a few of the things we can do to help look after ourselves, our staff and consequently, our customers.
Working long hours can lead to a situation where we either don’t get the chance to prepare good meals, or simply can’t be bothered at the end of a long day. Preparing meals in advance, perhaps over the weekend, and keeping them in the freezer is a great way to ensure you have access to good quality food throughout the week. Most work places, transport depots or customers lunch rooms have a microwave, and the three minutes it takes to heat up your home cooked meal will be quicker than finding a park and waiting in line at the corner café.
If you do find yourself needing to buy take away, go for a healthy option with less fat and sugar. A salad roll will not only be better for you, but will keep you feeling full for longer, perhaps saving a second stop later in the day.
Getting Some Exercise
For many of us, simply being at work means we get plenty of exercise. There are many in our industry though, including long haul drivers, who don’t do much physical work throughout the day. While it might sound strange to go for a walk after a big day behind the wheel, research has shown that it has many benefits. A half an hour walk at some time throughout the day will not only slow the broadening of your waistline, but helps prevent things such as blood clots, which are not uncommon for long haul drivers. Taking a walk during your mandatory break, or at the end of the day, gets the heart pumping, the blood flowing and helps in getting a better night’s sleep. If a long walk is not your thing, park up a few blocks from the roadhouse and walk down for that coffee- every little bit helps!
Sleep is the basis of any healthy routine. Good quality sleep only comes in long stretches, and in quiet and comfortable surrounds. While some of you might say that you have no choice when and where you sleep, you need to understand how important it is to do all you can to improve your chances of getting quality rest. Sleep deprivation not only leads to fatigue, but also dramatically increases the risk of illness. While it can be tough finding a good place to park, or even the time to climb in the bunk, there are a few things you can do to improve your quality of rest.
As mentioned earlier, a little exercise is a good way of using up some energy before going to bed. Avoiding coffee or soft drinks in the hour or so before bed will also make it easier to get to sleep, and while a beer or two might seem like a good way to relax, it will affect the quality of your sleep once you doze off. For those out on the highway, finding a good place to sleep means finding somewhere well off the road, away from street lights and out of the way. While there is often a battle to get a spot in a parking bay, it might be worth sneaking into one of those little by-passed towns and parking up there for the night.
If you’re an owner operator, office manager or forklift driver, sleep is equally important, and you need to make sure you get it. Sure, you might miss out on your favourite TV show, but it will be worth it tomorrow.
Keep An Eye On Your Mates
While it’s important to keep an eye on your own health, you should also keep an eye on your work mates and family. Quite often, people don’t realise how badly they are suffering from pushing themselves too hard. Fatigue, sickness, depression and many other ailments can sneak up on people, and it’s never wrong to ask someone if they are alright. If you notice one of your colleagues is under the weather, offer them some support, and ensure they looking after themselves. If you yourself are feeling a little run down, take some time off. It might not seem like the best idea financially, but in the long term you will be better off for looking after yourself.
Have A Regular Check-up
As you would with your equipment, you should also take yourself in for a regular check-up. In the same way as we use preventative maintenance on mechanical objects, it is easier to treat a human medical problem that is identified early, and the recovery time is often greatly reduced meaning less time off work. Who knows, you might be surprised by the results!
Often when we are saying goodbye to someone, we say “look after yourself”. We should think of it as not just a phrase, but more of an instruction.
Having grown up around the transport industry, and spent most of his school holidays in various trucks with his dad, Dave began driving trucks at the age of 19. Having started at the bottom in small rigid trucks doing local work around Melbourne, he worked his way up to driving B-double combinations on interstate duties as a company driver, before winning the Scania Young Australian Truck Driver competition in 2007.
The prize, a brand new Scania prime mover, meant Dave was thrust into the role of being an owner operator, and had to learn the business side of the industry very quickly. That first truck was sold in 2012, but within a month of it being sold Dave and his wife, Amy, had bought a second truck which they ran until late 2016. By that time Dave had decided it would be good to spend some more time with his family, and be more of a dad to their two young boys.
Since 2010, Dave has also been working as a journalist for a number of transport industry publications, initially combining the role of a full time driver with that of a part time journalist. His insider knowledge of the transport industry, including experience in various types of trucks, trailers and freight, provides a different perspective to many other transport industry journalists. The hard learned lessons from running his own business also give him an insight to the dollars and cents side of transport.
While Dave now focusses on his role as a contributor to Trucksales.com.au, he also spends a bit of time on the road as a casual driver- a job he still loves to do. Dave sees this as important, as it keeps him up to date with what’s going on in the “real world” of transport and allows him to maintain his skills in various roles. Whether it’s carting cars or delivering dairy product in fridge vans, he enjoys spending time out on the road amongst the people of the transport industry.
Dave is proud to be part of such a diverse and dynamic industry, and is passionate about the industry and its people.