Local 1576

Health Effects of Career Bus Driving

Pete Majkut, CT shop steward and champion of driver safety, sent our office an interesting paper that was written by the MFL Occupational Health Centre in Canada, on the health effects of career bus driving. I wish I could say that the results reported are surprising. However, after 15 years in the industry, I can go through my mind and see the faces of more than a few friends who have the suffered from the effects written about. The quote below is from the report.
“Dozens of studies conducted over the last four decades in cities on almost every continent show that city bus drivers, when compared to workers in other jobs, are more likely to experience
death from heart and blood vessel disease
heart and blood vessel-related conditions such as chest pain and high blood pressure, digestive disorders
musculoskeletal problems, especially of the back, neck and shoulders

Bus drivers frequently report tension, mental overload, fatigue and sleeping problems. Bus drivers also have more frequent absences from work and of longer duration than workers in other occupations. A large proportion of the work absences are attributable to stress-related disorders such as digestive problems and anxiety. Bus drivers retire earlier and at a younger age than other civil servants. Early retirement is usually accompanied by disability. The main health problems leading to disability are related to the back, tendons and joints, mental illness, and heart and blood vessel disease.”
Does this sound surprising to you? I bet not. The link to the entire article is posted below.
What can we do to mitigate the hazards of our jobs? Part of it we know, taking care of ourselves, getting out of the seat, trying to manage our stress and many other things we know to do can surely help. But that is only part of the equation. As they say, you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
After the layoffs, the work has gotten worse. There have been numerous newsletter articles written about the long work days, un-doable schedules, lack of breaks, and split days off. Those of us who have done this work for many years can attest that we have never seen the work schedules this difficult. And because of the layoffs, the drivers who are doing this work have already been driving for many years therefore more susceptible to some types of injury.
The union supports the members in attaining a good contract that has fair wages, hours and working conditions. As we enter into contract negotiations at Community Transit, as has been stated over and over, the members must stay informed and supportive of the process.
Taking the issue of driver breaks and manageable workloads seriously is a critical part of what we can do when we stand together as a Union.

In solidarity,
Dani Charles

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