Men’s Health Crisis
There is a crisis in men’s health in the UK. One in five men won’t make it to retirement age. But the fleet industry can help change that. Millions of men in the UK drive as part of their job. Fleet operators which extend health education and/or access to health services can improve men’s chances for a longer, healthier life.
Life expectancy – men in crisis
One man commits suicide every two hours – it’s the leading cause of death among men under the age of 50.
The life expectancy of men went down for the first time in history during the COVID pandemic. The majority of COVID deaths were men. Even worse, men comprise twice as many excess deaths post-pandemic as women. The highest jump in excess deaths was recorded for men between 50 and 64.
75% of cardiac deaths are male – one in 8 men will die from heart disease. Diabetes is also heavily weighted towards men, with twice as many suffering diabetes-related amputations.
Men from deprived areas and in blue collar jobs are far more likely to die young. You can read a full list of the statistics about male health on the Men’s Health Forum.
Although obviously not all drivers are male, in many sectors fleet drivers are predominantly male, and this makes the UK crisis in men’s health a specific concern to fleet operators. It also gives the fleet industry a huge opportunity to help working men to a healthier future. The good news is many of these premature deaths are preventable – and the fleet industry can play its part to prevent them.
Risk factors for male drivers
There are many factors affecting working men’s health in the UK. These are just a few of them:
- It is very hard to access healthcare during working hours. According to the Men’s Health Forum, working-age men are far less likely to make or attend a doctor’s appointment than women.
- Nearly one third of men will avoid seeing the doctor and ignore symptoms according to recent Movember study. Many men do not examine themselves or seek preventive testing.
- Zero hours contracts and work insecurity make people reluctant to take time off to see a doctor, particularly if they won’t be paid.
- Although staff have the legal right to take time off if sick, sometimes employers or financial pressures coerce employees into work anyway.
- Beliefs about ‘masculinity’ stop many men from seeking help or admitting to issues which they may perceive as weakness
- Men may also identify more closely with their work, and so being thought ‘unfit’ for work strikes at their self-belief
- 61% of men in the UK are overweight or obese by the age of 34. They are also far less likely to join a weight loss group, see their doctor or have weight monitoring than women.
What can fleet operators do?
- Encourage self-care. Educate drivers about preventive medical care, the importance of acting early on symptoms, and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
- Provide access to medical services in-house. A monthly visit by a nurse, an employee care helpline or an occupational health service help to make routine medical checks accessible to drivers.
- Allow paid time off for medical appointments. If drivers have to book phone appointments, give them permission to park up safely in order to take the call, even if this delays other work.
- Provide resources from the Van Driver Toolkit or the Men’s Health Forum.
- Treat drivers as carefully as any other asset. Vehicles are checked daily by drivers and regularly by technicians. Why would your drivers be worth less regular care?
- Create a culture in which reporting fatigue, emotional or mental distress, or a physical complaint to management is met with a supportive and proactive attitude, not censure.
- Make sure people do not drive when sick. Those infected with COVID are no longer obliged to self-isolate. However, if employees have flu or COVID symptoms, or another condition which makes them feel significantly sub-par, they should not do manual work, risk infecting others, drive or operate machinery. Anyone taking over- the-counter remedies should also check with a pharmacist that this will not impair their ability to drive.