health-protection in the haulage industry
Dr. Jürgen Lange
1 Aims and Introduction
The questions to be asked and the procedure to be followed to determine
shortcomings with regard to safety and health protection in the haulage
industry are derived from wider-ranging problems in the overall
haulage, logistics and transport sectors.
The following execution is based on an intensive study of practices
specific to the haulage, logistics and transport sectors, in order of
the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (FIOSH),
Germany (Project F1980, Duration 2003 - 2005).
The contribution that can be made by the relevant laws, decrees and
directives on safety and health protection for those actively involved
in the haulage industry is by no means being exhausted although their
stricter application, adherence and monitoring can considerably improve
If one takes a closer look at the structure of companies operating in
the haulage and transport industry, the trend away from large transport
companies towards small and very small companies continues unbroken. In
2002, 50% of transport companies fell into this size category. These
companies are not in a position to even begin to fulfill the statutory
safety and health-protection requirements and these are quite simply
ignored. The consequence of this is that the drivers working in these
companies or one-driver entrepreneurs see safety and health protection
as an abstract value which is at best perceived when the effects of
overtiredness or tension become evident, which are then dealt with
using suitable means on an individual basis.
The success of making those actively involved in transport work
sensitive to preventive safety and health protection will depend on the
extent to which the client ordering transport services is prepared to
take adequate account of safety and health protection as a quality
criterion for a transport service when pricing this service.
In the transport industry the statutory safety and health standards are
viewed as obstacles to competition which, if avoided, result in
considerable improvements in earnings, impressively illustrated by the
Prognos study (2003) "Quantifizierung der Nicht-Einhaltung von Sozial-
und Sicherheitsvorschriften auf der Strasse - Quantification of
non-observance of social and safety regulations on roads"(Prognos AG:
Quantifizierung der Nicht-Einhaltung von Sozial- und
Sicherheitsvorschriften auf der Strasse, Basel, 2003).
For this reason it is important is to take a look at the preventive
possibilities already existing for social monitoring and support
systems affecting safety and health protection. Within the framework of
weighing up safety and health protection in the haulage industry, two
aspects of the safety and health system are of interest:
2 Methods, Notes on the situation of the haulage
industry in Germany
- What strategies do those directly involved adopt on
their own initiative?
- Where is it possible to find starting points for
improving safety and health protection with a view to establishing a
preventive company health policy in the transport industry against the
backdrop of current economic and political conditions?
In the past decade the haulage industry, with its traditional
warehousing, distribution, goods-processing and transport sectors, has
largely become integrated in the newly developing logistics sector.
However, the traditional tasks and special qualifications in a haulage
company are no longer sufficient for the complex logistical tasks.
Although logistics companies still perform haulage work, e.g. goods
distribution, their range of tasks has expanded considerably. The trend
is thus increasingly to assume value-enhancing production tasks:
It can be observed that, as a result of processes of rationalisation in
industrial production and global trade - made possible by I&C
technologies such as the Internet and satellite communication - global
competition takes place via virtual networks, which are dissolved once
a customer’s requirements have been fulfilled and are re-formed
in a different constellation to deal with another customer´s
- they are integrated in the industrial production
process of industrial customers, e.g. in the automobile sector (e.g.
BLG - Daimler-Chrysler) and deliver pre-products directly "to the
- they design and control the goods flow for department
stores (supply chain management),
- they distribute close to the customer (e.g.
Otto-Versand - Hermes or BLG - Tchibo),
- they supply and fill department store shelves (e.g.
Metro - DPD) or
- they assembly complex medical-technical systems, e.g.
resonance imaging units for Philips by UPS.
Logistics companies are ideal for such services because they are the
ones that not only physically move the goods, but also monitor and
control the network processes. In order for these processes to work
trouble-free within a supply chain organisation those controlling the
processes need highly qualified transport staff.
Although the actual transport task is still the most important one
within the supply chain, it is also one of the few tasks that can be
handled with relatively simply basic qualifications. Here the logistics
sector has found its largest rationalisation potential, not least
because the transport sector represents the largest individual cost
factor as a result of the large workforce needed.
The following rationalisation strategies have been observed:
The outsourcing strategies of the transport industry have meant that
the transport sector - especially the group of small and very small
companies ("one-driver companies") - has "atomized" transport vehicles
in the category up to 7,5 t.
- using subcontractors (outsourcing)
- precarisation of transport work (reducing wages,
increasing working hours)
These "independent sole proprietorships" rarely manage to earn enough
to cover costs. Self-exploitation while circumventing the relevant laws
and directives (safety and health protection) are the rule. These
independent companies are extremely difficult for the national
supervisory authorities and trade associations to reach.
Even if the transport workers (drivers) are employed, they are subject
to the same conditions of use, but have the considerable advantage of
working in a company which has to observe the relevant laws and
directives, has a company safety and health-protection management
scheme, employee representatives (works council) and can be fined for
3.1 Safety and health protection in practice
Of the 26 largest providers of transport and logistics services
covering the German logistics market and participating in global
network competition, only three companies still transport using their
own vehicles and their own staff exclusively. The vast majority has its
own fleet as well as obtaining additional transport capacity from
subcontractors (14 companies); seven companies offer their transport
services using subcontractors only. According to logistics companies
this is the future trend.
This has considerably consequences for health and safety protection. In
principle, the provisions, laws and directives relating to safety,
labour and health protection apply for all companies operating in the
haulage and transport industry (also for the individual driver running
his own one-man company). However, implementation of the statutory
requirements in the - mostly very small -companies, is extremely
difficult as - unlike the large companies - they do not have a company
safety and health-protection organisation.
The situation is made even more difficult by the fact that the small
and very small companies have a contract with their customers, who
insist on adherence to safety and health-protection standards and
concrete quality standards. As a rule, only failure to observe delivery
deadlines results in punishment in the form of a fine.
The subcontractors neglect the safety and health regulations with tight
route schedules and delivery dates in order to keep their earnings
within economic limits. For small companies as a rule this can only be
achieved by accepting precarious work.
Logistics companies, which operate globally in virtual network
competition, impose their own codes of conduct, in which they undertake
to observe the relevant laws, rules and directives for the protection
of employees as they apply in individual countries.
Precise criteria are defined for the treatment of goods to ensure a
standard product quality within a network, and failure to observe these
(missing deadlines, damage, etc.) results in substantial fines for the
It is customary for safety and health-protection criteria to be
formulated in corporate philosophies in the form of declarations of
intent, but these are always monitored via the national authorities of
the companies participating in the virtual network.
As these virtual global networks frequently only exist for a short time
and are dissolved once a customer´s requirements have been
fulfilled, monitoring by the supervisory institutions of the individual
countries is very difficult to implement. Safety and health protection
in the transport industry is an important factor for the well being of
the human resources involved, but difficult to implement in practice.
3.2 Analysis of the safety and health-protection
conditions for drivers working in the haulage/ logistics sector
In the large companies operating in the haulage and logistics industry
(global corporations supported by groups) a company personnel policy
geared to employees - in the form of co-determination rules of the
Labour-Management Relations Act - has created the prerequisites for
partner-like cooperation in corporate safety and health protection.
However, it has been observed that in the haulage sector studied the
in-company possibilities for constructive and forward-looking personnel
and health policy activities are taken insufficient advantage of.
There are many reasons for this: The high-tech logistics sector (which
globally organises and controls flows of goods with the support of
innovative I&C technologies, networks decentralised virtual
production processes and optimally supports commercial companies in
line with customer and demand requirements) optimises its individual
commercial results by means of outsourcing strategies in the physical
transport of goods, i.e. by engaging subcontractors.
The transport sector is organised along the lines of SMEs. There were
97,000 transport companies operating in Germany in 2003. 56% of these
companies had up to 5 employees, 31% up to 19 employees and only 13% of
companies employed an average of 80 persons (BAG USTAT, Cologne 2004).
The small and very small companies are mainly bound by contract as
subcontractors to the few large companies in the sector on very clear
conditions with regard to transport quality and price timing. The
majority of these transporters are individual drivers, operating
vehicles between 2.8 and 3.5 t and between 3.5 and 7.5 t, working on
the basis of wage structures with a tendency to precarious payment
These companies are not in a position to develop safety and health
models and implement them in their companies. Surveys among individual
selected transport companies and discussions with sole proprietors have
shown that the general statutory safety and health-protection laws are
inadequately known or not known at all.
In order to improve active and passive safety there are a large number
of technical solutions in and on transport vehicles (trucks) that are
able to drastically reduced accidents involving drivers. These may be
technical improvements in the vehicles, using integrated easy-to-handle
securing systems, organisational-technical improvements, such technical
monitoring systems as speed controllers or systems to record driving
times, etc. In any case, external monitoring activities on the part of
the police, financial regulatory bodies (customs), Bundesamt für
Güterverkehr (BAG), are helpful. Taken altogether, all these
measures are extremely efficient with regard to (transport) safety and
result in a decrease in accident figures.
The need for statutory (preventive) health protection has yet to be
recognised in the sector. The ideology of the "tough guy" prevails in
the sector, enjoying his "free wheeling", solving any problematic
transport problems that occur with ease and accepting full
responsibility for them as a matter of course. Health protection is
regarded a "nanny state interference" and a "restriction of corporate
Thee effects of this "ideology of freedom" are interesting if one looks
at the diagnoses when drivers are written off sick. HSFG has analysed
the data from the BKK-Bundesverbandes 2003 (BKK: Gesundheitsreport
2003, Essen, 2004). The greater part of illnesses recorded (excluding
influenza infections) relate to "psycho-social anomalies" with an
extremely long period of illness per patient. Here we must assume that
unofficial figures are much higher as the health insurance funds only
cover the smaller group of drivers, employed drivers, whereas by far
the larger number of drivers work for themselves and are not obliged to
be covered by health insurance.
The following reasons were given by the drivers as to why they ignore
existing safety and health-protection rules: "Putting my seat belt on
makes my work more difficult", "I´ll take that order too, I still
have some space at the back", even if the truck is already overloaded,
"I´ll make the deadline, I still feel fine" even when the
prescribed driving times have already long been exceeded by skipping
the prescribed rest times or vehicles are simply exchanged, etc., and
these confirm our analysis. Drivers are generally aware of the strains
and stresses. Ultimately supported by the special attention of the
media to the job of "trucker", it nevertheless still has positive
connotations. Health problems are individualised and seen as the
responsibility of the individual driver.
It can be noted that the aims of a corporate safety and
health-protection policy as pursued to date are largely reactive in
nature. Even if this still prevailing culture of repair and
compensation is gradually changing (Bieneck, H.J., Das
Arbeitssicherheitsgesetz - ein Gesetz im Wandel der Zeit, nicht
publizierter Vortragstext aus dem Jahr 2004) the fact is that for all
those involved (companies in the haulage and transport industry,
industrial associations, trade supervisory authorities, trade
associations, social security funds, health insurance funds, etc.) and
the state as the body responsible for directives and laws with the
corresponding supervisory authorities), a culture of preventive problem
avoidance and taking advantage of health-promoting opportunities is
still largely in its infancy.
In particular, the complex network of parties outside of companies
should be reviewed and reorganised. On the one hand, there is no clear
definition of responsibility and on the other there is no continuous,
problem-oriented cooperation - especially on the part of the social
security funds. The aims and tasks of government supervisory
authorities should be reviewed. The scope given to companies to
initiate their own in-company responsibility must be supported by a
The new rules on labour protection give company the choice of means to
do this. In the companies we asked (works council, dispatch controllers
and drivers) their "own" responsibility for safety and health
protection is largely unknown or this "freedom" results in considerable
disruptions of behaviour - resulting in corporate labour protection
being ignored - as confirmed by the press spokesman of the "Berlin
District Authority for Labour Protection, Health Protection and
Technical Safety" in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung: ...."many
companies are simply overwhelmed by these new freedoms. The prefer
concrete conditions!" (Berliner Zeitung, No. 62, dated 15 March 2005,
The principal task must be to strengthen corporate health reporting,
especially in small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), and to intensify
the exchange of ideas between supporters of preventive safety and
health protection and (scientific advisors?) and those involved in
day-to-day practice. Instead of one-sided disciplinary measures geared
to particular groups of jobs, there should be problem-related
cooperation with those responsible in the company.
In this connection the efforts undertaken by the Berufsgenossenschaft
Fahrzeughaltung (BFG) to build up a "networker" system for the
transport industry and the small companies it comprises, using
so-called moderators, who are themselves small or one-driver companies,
and to remind these small or one-driver companies of the need for
individual (preventive) health protection and to support them when
necessary are worthy of note.
Modernisation of corporate and supra-corporate labour and health
The physical risks, typical job-related illnesses and accidents at work
in the transport sector will also have to be monitored in the future
although the focus of in-company safety and health-protection
activities will move to the psychological and social risks, as well as
the as well as the future psychological and physical well-being of, of
the drivers. A sense of well being and good health should be at the
centre of interest of employees, employee representatives, management
and company safety and health-protection experts as a high level of
long-term commercial efficiency can only be maintained and improved if
the integration and sense of responsibility of employees is encouraged
and modern safety and health management is given high priority.
In-company safety and health policy currently only has a low priority
with all those involved in transport companies - and this is typical of
the whole transport sector. In nearly all cases, the haulage and
forwarding industry must be put in a position to implement a modern
in-company safety and health policy and especially the small and
mid-sized companies need particular support as a result of their
integration in logistic systems where time is a critical factor.
Here it is important that this should take the form of providing
qualifications and exchanging examples of "best practice". According to
our research in the sector, such a package of measures alone is not
sufficient to awaken interest in a comprehensive safety and
health-protection culture in companies. Financial incentives would
constitute a good "lever" to activate in-company safety and health
If one is to allow for those pathogenic and salutogenic factors that
influence well-being, safety and health, it is necessary to view the
company as a whole. This covers management, structure, process
organisation, corporate culture, social relations and no longer simply
working conditions, work content and technical equipment. In addition
to the man-machine interface, the man-man interface will become a focus
of development in the company.
Companies must undertake to run a healthy organisation, making use of
modern in-company safety and health-protection management (Lange, J.,
u.a., Gesundheitsschutzkonzepte für kleine mittlere Hafenbetriebe
beim Auto- und Massengutumschlag, Dortmund/Berlin, 2002). The aims of
an innovative safety management system (SMS) fulfill the expectations
of customers, shareholders and employees.
In the past, the focus of in-company personnel policy in reacting to
changes in underlying conditions was:
There are some signs of a forward-looking, staff-oriented approach to
modern safety and health-protection policy in the companies in the
transport sector, but these are not widespread. These beginnings are
accepted by a very limited number of employers, trade unions and
employees. In spite of a proven increase in health risks and hazards
for employees, this situation is not likely to change significantly
without considerable efforts on the part of the companies.
- "substitution using technology"
- "slimming down via outsourcing" and
- "rejuvenation of staff by means of a creative
An in-company safety and health policy requires close cooperation
between company management and employee representatives. In the haulage
and transport sector this demand seems quite anachronistic: on the one
hand the special nature of the sector, with its predominantly small
companies, has to be taken into account: which small or one-driver
company has its own works council? Or, if one looks and the trend
towards globalisation, where do the globally operating parties from
this sector meet? In competition on the world markets as a rule by
forming virtual companies, which are dissolved once an order has been
dealt with and are revived in a different form with different parties
involved for a new order.
In forming a virtual transport company the global players make use of
the many transport companies in the goods-transport sector with the aid
of suitable IT-supported control strategies. Although virtual companies
have a clear economic target and a defined, responsible management to
control the productive processes within the virtual system, due to the
limited range of standardised systems of rules for safety and health
protection they cannot be obliged to implement these.
The responsibility for the safety and health protection of those
actively involved in virtual companies must lie with the "controllers"
as they are the value-adding companies in the virtual network.
As is the case for the responsibility of the works council for the
labour-protection and labour-safety matters relating to an "outside
labourer" who is involved in company production processes (BetrVG) and
is also entitled to participate in works council elections, the works
council should also take care of the requirements regarding safety and
health protection of those working for virtual companies. The reality
in companies currently looks very different from this vision: the
companies and works councils do not see themselves always as partners
and it is not accepted as self-evident by those responsible in
companies that works councils are their co-managers. It is not always
sufficiently recognised that safety and health protection is a
classical task of the works councils. Entrepreneurs often regard this
as an irksome duty. The need for innovative in-company safety and
health management and the opportunities this offers are frequently not
seen or taken seriously.
The change in the focus of in-company safety and health-protection
policy to the companies and service organisations in the wake of
decentralisation and more individual responsibility presents the
individual companies with new challenges.
The same applies for the supra-company bodies, the health insurance
funds, the trade associations, the pension funds, the associations and
the state. The tasks to be performed, aspects taken for granted and
behaviour patterns must be reviewed and re-adjusted - although this
does not seem possible without a valid analysis of the actual situation
(strengths, weaknesses, need for development). Cooperation between
these supra-company bodies with regard to companies must be
significantly improved while clearly defining the respective areas of
responsibility. The first developments in this direction in the
transport sector can be observed among the health insurance funds and
the Berufsgenossenschaft für Fahrzeughaltung (Trade Association
for Vehicle Ownership) although aspects of pension insurance and the
need for a connection between health promotion, prevention and
rehabilitation are not included to a sufficient degree. Furthermore, it
should be noted that the federal states are reducing their supervisory
services without there being any clarity as to their future and their
change of function.
With the current legislation the state has set some important points
for the future. However, there is a gap between the regulations and
their implementation. The way in which cooperation between the state
(national and regional governments) and the associations of the
logistics, haulage and transport companies is to be designed is still
being discussed. On the one hand, the state is "on the retreat", but on
the other it is facing new challenges as a result of the greater need
to work with financial incentives. The latter also applies to its
future inspection duties - such as external quality assurance,
in-company safety and health management and the implementation of a
"new type of intervention".
Since 1996, the Arbeitsschutzgesetz (Labour Protection Act), das
Arbeitssicherheits¬gesetz (Labour Safety Act) and SGB VII and SGB V
have offered the beginnings of a progressive safety and health
protection in the haulage and transport industry as well as an
innovative in-company safety and health policy. There are thus actual
laws containing corresponding beginnings in place. It is generally
agreed that although implementation is inadequate, these laws do not
prevent or hinder reforms. These legal foundations must be made
efficient use of. It should be looked into why the workplace directive
is not permitted to apply for a truck workplace as here there is a gap
in the law. In addition to this, the application of a new type of
intervention is necessary for the supra-company bodies.
This new type of intervention (in cooperation with the health insurance
funds, trade associations), which is compatible both with the changed
realities and the understanding of comprehensive preventive in-company
safety and health promotion will - if professionally handled with
positive effects on the commercial result - be determined by the
following key points:
As with this type of intervention the government leaves companies
plenty of scope for its own design possibilities, unlike with tradition
methods, it ensure acceptance and acceptability by employees by
defining the underlying conditions and minimum standards.
- designed on the basis of companies,
- based on participation of those affected and
- designed as an integrated task in corporate strategy.
A new in-company safety and health-protection policy has to overcome
major problems and this is why the government should offer financial
incentives to support the companies in following this new path. This
support can take the form of external moderation and consulting.
In order to reduce arbitrary and contradictory behaviour, given the
large number of possible ways available, the trade unions and
industrial associations should motivate the entrepreneurs and works
councils to the support in-company safety and health policy. Cohesive
networks and inter-company platforms are suitable for deepening and
generalising good examples and proven procedures and making them
transferable The new in-company safety and health policy must be
designed as a learning process for all those involved as only in this
way can it develop on the basis of a fundamental agreement within a
The potential for safety and health varies greatly throughout the
transport sector. It varies to a considerable degree in accordance with
the wage-related integration of the drivers in transport companies. To
this extent today the representation of super-company interests by
those negotiating wage agreements is still of significance if only to
counter the impression that they are always only interested in
questions relating to income.
Hamburg, 14th September 2006