Owning positive improvements in mental health

Earlier this year, NTI’s National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) released its 2021 Major Accident Investigation Report.

This is the 10th report in a series that has spanned almost two decades. When NTI first startied collating and analysing data on serious heavy vehicle crashes John Howard was still Prime Minister, Apple had just launched iTunes, and you could still buy an International Eagle 9900. It was a different time.

The data set over the ten reports tells an important story about focus and investment in our industry; a focus on new technologies such as fatigue monitoring systems, updated legislation on fatigue, and greater awareness of and accountability for safety under the Chain of Responsibility.

Throughout the report series, serious accidents caused by fatigue have been a closely watched figure, with many from across the industry using NTI’s data to highlight improvements and successes and push for greater attention on this important issue.

The 2021 report highlighted encouraging new trends; fatigue-related crashes involving heavy vehicles were down from 27 per cent in 2005 to eight per cent last year.

This is despite the number of freight movements and heavy vehicles increasing by around 50 per cent during this same period. This is a fantastic outcome — but certainly not the end of the road.

What it tells us is that when our industry works together to put a spotlight on an issue, educate on the positive impacts of new technologies, responsibly introduce or update legislation, and not give up when conversations get difficult, positive change can happen.

NTI’s organisational purpose is ‘To make you safer and more sustainable’.

In recent years, this has resulted in the launch of services beyond insurance, that aim to help transport and logistics businesses become more proactive in the way they look after the safety and wellbeing of their people.

Our Traction Program, for example, involves sending our team of Culture and Change experts to support a business to resolve identified cultural areas of improvement in safety.

This helps management and leaders in the business to uncover the ‘people levers’ that are preventing a business moving from “good” to “great”.

Our confidential Business Health Check service also helps businesses to look at their performance across six key metrics to ensure they are best practice against industry benchmarks.

To support businesses who bravely choose to pursue the journey from good to great, we have also invested in our ‘Better Business Hub’, a free online platform for anyone in the transport and logistics industries, containing practical tools, templates, and tips across a range of topics: Profitable Business, Managing your Team and Cutting Red Tape.

At the heart of these initiatives is a focus on people. We want to help them better understand how to stay safe at work, how to better communicate with their managers or employees, and how to better understand their people and processes for improvement. We want to help businesses in our industry to become safer and more sustainable.

Essentially, we’ve learnt that there is a lot we can all do to help transport businesses so that they have more time and increased skills to focus on the wellbeing of their most important asset — their people.

As an organisation, NTI is proud to be an Open Road Partner of Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds (HHTS). For many years, we’ve offered counselling and health support for our customers, as well as our own people.

What excites me about HHTS is the opportunity to work with others within transport and logistics to deliver tangible improvement in mental health to our Industry.

We’re proud to be involved in developing and promoting an industry-wide strategy towards best practice psychological safety, wellbeing, and physical health for everyone no matter how big or small their business may be.

Our Risk Advisory Services programs such as Traction and Business Health Check have already shown us the positive effects of communicating openly and honestly within a business. Imagine the outcomes if we did this for our whole industry.

HHTS recently launched its National Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap.

This is an opportunity for all of us – businesses and individuals – to shine a spotlight on this vital initiative.

The Roadmap has been created as a shared starting point and a conversation starter for the industry and just as we have seen improvement with fatigue, it is all of our responsibility to ensure that our industry keeps talking about, and acting on, mental health and wellbeing — even if it gets uncomfortable.

Within NTI, we have a rally cry for our people: #OwnIt. It’s simple. Let’s not step to the side and hope someone else takes responsibility for an initiative; instead, we should all ‘own it’.

No matter what role we play in the industry, or how big or small our business is, let’s all ‘own’ the issue of mental health and wellbeing and play our part in actioning and promoting adoption of the Roadmap.

Let’s not allow positive change in the industry to slow.

Let’s make sure that, in years to come, we are talking about the positive improvements in the mental health and wellbeing of our greatest assets, our co-workers, our friends, our families — our people.

Tony Clark,

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