Mental health injuries in the truck driving industry

Did you know that mental health injuries result in more time off work?

Smiling male truck driver sitting in a truck wearing a beanie and high visibility vest

Occupational stress can worsen mental health and it has become apparent that claims due to mental stress have the longest duration and time off work.

Last year, an average of 110 days was taken off, costing icare on average $50,000 when a transport worker put through a mental health claim (policy year 2018-19).

Your workers may be exposed to occupational stressors that can worsen their mental health including:

  • social isolation
  • time pressures
  • disrespectful treatment from others
  • driving hazards
  • violence, or fear of violence.

Risk of suicide

Research has found that truck drivers have a disproportionately high risk of suicide when compared to other male-dominated occupations. In younger truck drivers, it's the leading cause of death.

As an employer, you can support the psychological wellbeing of your workers by informing your team about the risks associated with mental health, and proactively promoting steps to support their mental wellbeing.

Analysis of our workers compensation claims data showed that 92 per cent of services for mental health occurred more than three months into the claim. This means there is ample opportunity to implement early intervention strategies such as:

  • identifying and managing occupational stressors (examples listed above)
  • promoting mental health 
  • ensuring timely access to treatment and rehabilitation services.

Other factors affecting the mental health of truck drivers

Stigma with claiming for mental health conditions

Unfortunately, there is some stigma associated with claiming workers compensation benefits for mental health and Australian truck drivers suffering mental illness are less likely than any other workers to seek medical help.  

Treatments for work-related injuries

Injured truck drivers may require treatment with prescription medications that have the potential to pose a risk to their mental health and wellbeing and compromise safe driving.   

In workers compensation data, truck drivers receive more analgesic prescriptions compared to other occupational groups, and certain prescriptions are associated with longer time off work. 

Geographic areas

In research conducted by Monash University, they found that some geographic areas had more than twice the average rate of work-related injury and disease in truck drivers. These areas were typically on the outskirts of major cities and on the border between Victoria and New South Wales. 

Local areas with very high state-standardised claim rates in New South Wales include: 

  • St Marys
  • Camden
  • Wollondilly
  • Penrith
  • Mount Druitt
  • Illawarra Catchment Reserve
  • Richmond-Windsor
  • Campbelltown.  

To explore this research in more detail, browse the publications on the Driving Health findings page.

Key takeaways for employers

  • Awareness is key: understand the unique job-related risk factors that can affect the mental health of truck drivers
  • Promote physical and psychological wellbeing
  • Manage mental health claims in line with best practice guidelines for psychological claims
  • More work is underway to examine evidence-based interventions to manage injuries for truck drivers.

    Resources and references

  • References
    • Driving Health Study, Insurance Work and Health Group, Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University.  Unpublished results 
    • Milner A, Page K, LaMontagne AD. Suicide among male road and rail drivers in Australia: a retrospective mortality study. Road & Transport Research: A Journal of Australian and New Zealand Research and Practice. 2015;24(2):26.
    • Xia T, Iles R, S. N, Lubman D, Collie A. National Transport and Logistics Industry Health and Wellbeing Study Report No 1: Work related injury and disease in Australian transport sector workers. Melbourne, VIC: Insurance Work and Health Group, Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University; 2018.
    • Xia, T., Iles, R., Newnam. S., Lubman, D., & Collie, A. A Driving Health Study Report 2:  Work Related Injury and Disease In Australian Truck Drivers, Melbourne, VIC: Insurance Work and Health Group, Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University; 2018.
    • Xia, T., Iles, R., Newnam. S., Lubman, D., & Collie, A. Driving Health Study Report No 3: Health service use following work-related injury and illness in Australian truck drivers. Insurance Work and Health Group, Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University (2018).
    • Xia, T., Iles, R., Newnam. S., Lubman, D., & Collie, A. Driving Health Study Report No 4: Use of pharmaceuticals following work-related injury and illness in Australian truck drivers. Insurance Work and Health Group, Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health
  • Resources