Rob Morrison rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Mon Sep 1 09:01:09 CEST 2008



Media Release

Embargoed until 00:01 Wednesday 3rd September 2008




A new report to be released on 3 September, reveals the many serious burdens
borne by Australia's truck drivers.


It is the first time, both in Australia and internationally, that a study of
this kind has examined the mental health of heavy goods vehicle (HGV)


The report, Health Survey of the New South Wales Transport Industry,
identified that certain factors - such as being employed casually or having
depression - may greatly increase the chance of an accident on Australian


Health Survey of the New South Wales Transport Industry was commissioned by
Australian Rotary Health, conducted by Queensland University and supported
by various bodies, including the NSW Transport Union and the National
Transport Commission. Its findings have major implications for road safety
throughout Australia.


Among the report's findings:


.           HGV drivers work an average of 62 hours per week. 65% work
longer, some more than 100 hours per week;

.           The number of hours worked each week is directly related to
driver stress; 

.           Drivers with symptoms of depression are twice as likely to have
an accident, while those with severe symptoms of depression are nearly six
times as likely to have an accident;

.           Being divorced increases the odds of depression by 5-times;

.           27% of drivers scored positive for potential hazardous alcohol
use with 3% in the extreme risk categories; 

.           8.9% of drivers use a drug at least weekly, with the use of some
drugs double that found in the normal population.


The author of the report, Dr Michael Hilton from the Park Centre for Mental
Health in Queensland, said that it is important the research findings be
extended into an action plan, but the report shows that drivers themselves
resist treatment.


"Educating those in the transport sector about mental health issues and
reducing the stigma attached to help-seeking is important," said Dr Hilton.
"The findings also point to the need to address the causes of stress in HGV
drivers and reduce working hours," he said.


"Our research found that 91% of drivers with symptoms of depression were not
in treatment - we also found that HGV drivers have substantial barriers to
treatment for mental health problems," said Dr Hilton. 


Senior Manager (Safety) for the National Transport Commission, Dr Jeff
Potter, said "The new 'Chain of Responsibility' laws which address the
underlying causes of heavy vehicle driver fatigue, such as poor planned rest
breaks and impossible deadlines, are a step in the right direction to
improve working conditions." 


Tony Sheldon from the NSW Transport Worker's Union, said, "The Federal
Government's recent commitment to a system of safe rates and an inquiry into
the link between rates of pay and safety in the transport industry are
critically important for the future."


CEO of beyondblue: the national depression initiative, Leonie Young said,
"We know that ongoing stress is a significant risk factor for depression and
beyondblue is committed to working with the transport industry to address
depression amongst drivers everywhere."



Health Survey of the New South Wales Transport Industry

                                   will be launched

at the Jubilee Room,    NSW Parliament House,     1 pm      3 September,


The report's author and Chief Researcher, Dr Michael Hilton will be joined
by Tony Sheldon from the Transport Workers Union, Jeff Potter from the
National Transport Commission, Australian Rotary Health Board members,
employer representatives and drivers to discuss the report's implications
and how it may point to improvements and answer media questions. There will
also be photo opportunities including a truck nearby.


The Australian Science Media Centre will be hosting an online media briefing
UNDER STRICT EMBARGO at 10.30am AEST Tuesday 2 September.  The report author
will speak, followed by a question and answer session online. To attend the
briefing go to www.aussmc.org/truckdrivers.php and follow the links.


CONTACTS: Heidi Hodder, Australian Rotary Health, 0402587 552; Michael
Hilton, 0402 319 477; Paul Sullivan, National Transport Commission, 03 9236
5027; Josh McIntosh, Transport Worker's Union, 0408 463 199; Julie Foster,
beyondblue, (03) 9810 6100.


Dr Rob Morrison

email: rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.asc.asn.au/pipermail/asc-media/attachments/20080901/3aad4571/attachment.html 

More information about the ASC-media mailing list