Report: How care staff and tradesmen travel in their work

A new research study from VTI, funded by AFA Insurance, examines the work environment and safety when tradesmen and care staff travel in their work. The report – the first of its kind in Sweden – contains remarkable results in several areas.

Photo: Hejdlösa bilder/ VTI

It is well known that professional drivers have a challenging work environment with fatigue, stress, and long working hours. However, most research has been done on truck drivers and bus drivers, occupational groups that are also covered by regulations on driving and rest times. The new report increases knowledge about two other groups that also drive a lot in their work – staff who work with home help and home care as well as tradesmen.

More than 2,000 people have participated in three different types of studies. Data has been collected using GPS regarding where, when, and how an individual drives. The groups have answered questions via a survey and further in-depth interviews have taken place with a selection of people.

Compared to care workers, tradesmen generally travel further, but on fewer occasions, and more often drive too fast. 30 per cent stated that they suffered from moderate or severe discomfort from pain and muscle tension, 30 per cent that they have lower back pain, 37 per cent that they get insufficient sleep and 15 per cent that they have struggled to stay awake at least 2-4 times in the past month.

64 per cent of the tradesmen’s vehicles had the opportunity to anchor down loose objects securely, but in most vehicles, there were still loose objects that could pose a traffic hazard.

“The shortcomings with regard to securely anchoring loads is a result that stands out. Even if it is possible to securely anchor a load, many people do not bother,” says project manager Anna Anund, adding that factors such as age, who owns the vehicle and the ability to influence working hours affect the inclination to securely anchor the load.

When it comes to care staff, this group experiences greater problems with regard to stress and sleepiness than tradesmen. 49 per cent stated that they suffered from pain or muscle tension, 46 per cent that they had pain in the lower back and 58 per cent that they felt that they get too little sleep. 23 per cent had struggled to stay awake at least 2-4 times in the past month.

“This is a result that stands out, even if the values are not as high as we have seen in previous surveys for bus drivers,” says Anna Anund.
Among the care workers who cycle in their work, 30 per cent often or fairly often use helmets. The reason may be, for example, that the employer does not provide helmets or that you do not want to share a helmet with others. The bicycles used often have defects in terms of, for example, brakes or reflectors.

The report offers several recommendations to improve the work environment and road safety for both groups. This includes improved skills, the purchase and maintenance of bicycles and electric bicycles, the purchase and equipment of motor vehicles, loading and securing loads, and a clarification of responsibilities regarding an employee’s work environment.

“For managers, it is very important to consider the work environment and see travel as part of the work. It is also important to take driving time into account when scheduling,” says Anna Anund.

Text: Mikael Sönne
Translation: CBG

The report (in Swedish): Hantverkares och omsorgspersonals resor i tjänsten: Fokus på arbetsmiljö och säkerhet (DIVA)External link.

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