Engen Driver Wellness brought well being to the front seat for South Africa’s truck drivers in 2017 by providing them with free health screenings.
Over 2017, 3 217 truck drivers pulled up their sleeves and took advantage of the voluntary free health screenings on offer, as part of Engen’s annual Driver Wellness programme which rolled out at 24 Engen Truck Stops in five provinces from April to November.
Running for its sixth year, Engen Driver Wellness is a mobile health awareness initiative run by Thubelihle Occupational Health & Wellness (TOCH).
Of the 3 217 truck drivers tested, 44% were found to have some form of concern. “We provide health education about chronic disease and HIV/AIDS and those drivers who are found with abnormalities are provided with a referral letter and advised to visit their general practitioner, nearest clinic or hospitals,” explains Thokozani Mthembu, the CEO of TOCH.
Operated nationwide at Engen Truck Stops and Engen retail service stations, drivers are offered free voluntary screenings in mobile clinics. These are conducted by qualified nurses and councillors where blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, tuberculosis, BMI (Body Mass Index), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) and HIV/AIDS are tested.
Abnormalities included being over-weight or obese, which accounted for 20% of drivers; 3.5% tested high for glucose levels and cholesterol. Five per cent of drivers tested high for blood pressure and 3% screened tested positive for TB. Drivers who tested positive for HIV totalled 6.7% and just over 2% tested positive for STI’s.
The initiative has impacted positively on the country’s bulk truck driver operators and has continued to increase driver participation in voluntary screenings and improved health scores over the years.
“Facing facts, knowing their numbers and their status is the first step towards getting healthy,” says Mthembu.
Engen’s Corporate Social Investment Manager, Mntu Nduvane says that the main aim of this initiative is to improve health through awareness. “In the past a number of truck driver refrained from being tested, opting to rather not know their numbers. Education has helped to demonstrate to drivers why their health is important and how life choices impact on their well-being. Ultimately this increases their health, safety and productivity.”
“There has been a marked increase in the amount of individuals using the services we provide which is a clear indication that this intervention is making a difference to the wellbeing of drivers and will ultimately lead to a healthier industry,” adds Nduvane.
As testing is voluntary, the incremental acceptance of health management as a path to longevity and wellbeing are important indicators that health empowerment is gaining traction. Given the long and lonely hours long-haul drivers spend on the road and the stresses associated with the job, these interventions form a critical pillar of support.
Engen’s focus on Health and Safety is aligned to its business. Health and Safety is entrenched in every aspect of the company’s operations. World-class standards and guidelines govern all of Engen’s practices in this regard and are applied vigorously to ensure operational excellence and best practice.
“Engen’s Driver Wellness campaign continues to have a massive all-round impact. This includes both on the drivers and their families, who benefit from reduced exposure to diseases and greater longevity of a breadwinner, and of course on the company itself, in terms of improved worker productivity, skills retention and disease management,” says Nduvane.