Raising awareness and voluntary screening
Because of the nature of OSA, the individual is not always aware that they have the condition. Therefore raising awareness of the symptoms and the consequences of it not being treated, is very important. Employers can play an important part by including OSA in their health and safety programmes.
It is important for all employees but particularly if you are a fleet operator and employ drivers because:
- Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is more common than you might imagine: perhaps as many as one in ten middle-aged men have it.
- 5% of the UK adult population are believed to have OSA but among vocational drivers the figure could be 15–20%.
- OSA can be difficult to diagnose: there are believed to be 1.4 million undiagnosed cases in the UK.
- The more severe form of OSA, OSA syndrome (OSAS), results in excessive sleepiness. It is thus the cause of many road traffic accidents – it is thought up to 20% of motorway accidents. Such accidents may cost over £1 million each year.
- OSAS is easily diagnosed and treated, benefitting both the sufferer and the wider community. However, we know from FTA and RAC research that drivers fear seeking treatment: they worry that they will lose their licences and/or their jobs. Your support for their treatment will ensure that your drivers are safe on the road.
- OSAS patients who receive treatment will be more productive and more motivated.
- It will mean you have a safer fleet of drivers and lower accident costs.
- Keeping such drivers on the road will help reduce the shortage of HGV drivers.
Given the dangers of driving with untreated sleep apnoea, the OSA Partnership Group is keen to support early diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Some companies that operate haulage fleets have shown an interest in screening their drivers, and the OSA partnership group is helping with this initiative.
We have used and put online a pair of well-recognised screening questionnaires, which will provide an indication of whether OSA and its symptoms might be present, and whether further medical assessment is recommended. This can be used either by fleet operators or by individuals, to identify drivers who may have OSA and who might benefit from treatment.
If a driver with probable OSA and excessive sleepiness relies on their driving licence for their livelihood, please refer to our section on OSA and driving which outlines the process for fast-tracked treatment.
Voluntary Screening Programme
The OSA Partnership Group works with fleet operators to provide a voluntary screening process for drivers. For example, we are running a pilot scheme for the logistics company, Nagel Langdons:
“We believe introducing a voluntary OSA screening programme is a ‘win-win’ situation for Nagel Langdons. By supporting treatment for those who are found to have OSA, we get safer drivers and more motivated staff, while the individual gains from improved quality of life and overall health.”
Michael Errington, Head of HR and Training, Nagel Langdons
To find out about our voluntary screening programme, please contact email@example.com
“If the driver of the truck that killed my nephew had been diagnosed and referred for fast track treatment of OSA when he visited his GP to complain about being tired all the time, Toby would still be with us”.