The global economy is highly dependent on the reliable functioning of the transport, logistics and warehousing sector. Employees in this sector tend to work under high time pressure, and this stress is exacerbated by long, irregular hours and physically demanding tasks.
Transport workers, especially drivers, are typically exposed to:
Prolonged sitting or standing, repetitive movements and carrying or moving heavy loads, all of which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, especially back problems.
Whole-body vibration, which can lead to serious musculoskeletal disorders and also affect vision and co-ordination.
Noise, which can lead to hearing loss.
Inhalation of toxic vapours and fumes such as diesel and road dust, which can cause respiratory problems.
Stress because of crime, road rage and aggressive customers, which can have many negative mental and physical health effects and lead to absenteeism.
In addition, transport workers often don’t work a 9-5 day, and their atypical working hours can lead to health issues such as long-term fatigue, insomnia and digestive problems. Infectious and exotic diseases are also a concern for long-distance drivers.
Warehousing and storage workers share in many of the risks named above, but in addition, they face:
Dusty conditions in warehouses, which can cause breathing problems.
High or low temperatures, such as working in a freezer area, which can adversely affect people with certain pre-existing medical conditions.
Being hit by moving or falling objects, which can cause serious or even fatal injuries.
Inhalation of fumigation gases in containers, which can have acute and chronic effects.
The transport, logistics and warehousing sector is a high-risk and stressful working environment. The combination of working at high speed to tight deadlines requires high-performing employees who are fit, healthy and focused.
Employers are encouraged to include a general wellness component in their occupational safety and health programmes. Education is also important to combat issues such as substance abuse and the spread of HIV/Aids, and to encourage healthy habits while driving long distances.
By law, a professional driver in South Africa needs a valid medical certificate of fitness to operate. This must be obtained prior to employment and applies to many other employees in the transport sector too.
In additional to a full medical examination with eye and audio tests, our occupational health practitioners will screen for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and epilepsy. We can also do a drug strip test to rule out intoxicating substances.
Additional medical screening may be required for drivers and workers who:
Move highly toxic or explosive materials.
Work at night.
Work on heights.
Operate large, heavy vehicles.
Apart from the legally required pre-employment medical, we also recommend periodical and exit medicals for workers in this sector.