Engen Driver Wellness 2017, a mobile health awareness initiative run by Thubelihle Occupational Health & Wellness on behalf of the oil company, kicked off last month at the Cape Road Convenience Centre in Port Elizabeth.

The initiative – which impacts positively on the country’s bulk truck operators – in is its sixth year. Its aim is to encourage drive participation in voluntary health screenings. This year’s project will see the programme reach 21 sites in five provinces over seven months.

Drivers are offered free health checks conducted by qualified nurses and councillors. Tests performed cover blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, tuberculosis, BMI (Body Mass Index) and HIV/AIDS.

Engen’s Corporate Social Investment Manager, Mntu Nduvane, says the initiative strives to improve health through awareness. “Education helps to remind drivers and our employees why their health is important and how life choices impact on their well-being. Ultimately this increases their health, safety and productivity,” he says.

Nduvane adds that over the years there has been a marked increase in the number of individuals who use the service. “That’s a clear indication that the intervention is making a difference to the wellbeing of drivers and will ultimately lead to a healthier industry,” he says.

As testing is voluntary, the incremental acceptance of health management as a path to wellbeing and longevity 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.

“Our most recent statistics show how cholesterol screening jumped by 63% from 2014 to 2015. Glucose testing went up by 18,5% and 16% more drivers tested their Body Mass Index (BMI), while blood pressure screening also realised an increase of 16%. HIV and STI testing rose by 16% between 2014 and 2015 and TB Screening saw a 15% upsurge,” Nduvane says.

Engen’s focus on health and safety is aligned to its business, with world-class standards and guidelines governing all of the company’s practices.

“Engen’s Driver Wellness campaign continues to have a massive all-round impact on truck drivers and their families, who benefit from reduced exposure to diseases, greater longevity of a breadwinner and, of course, on the employing company itself in terms of improved worker productivity, skills retention and disease management,” says Nduvane.