Eight out of ten firms want to know more about sleep disorders at work
Research by RAC Business into a severe and potentially devastating sleeping disorder found that eight out of 10 businesses that run vehicle fleets, say they would benefit from greater awareness of the condition.
Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) affects about 10% of the driving population but is more common among those who drive for a living. However awareness of the condition remains low among firms which rely on commercial vehicles and their drivers.
The research was carried out by RAC Business and the OSA Partnership Group in April 2016, and the findings included more than half of businesses, (57%), saying they had very little awareness of the condition and the importance of detecting and treating OSAS among their drivers.
The survey of 500 UK businesses, also revealed that 80% felt their company would benefit from greater awareness of the symptoms of OSAS, the treatment available and its impact on their drivers.
The disorder is particularly common amongst middle-aged men especially those who are overweight, and studies have shown that when a driver with untreated OSAS gets behind the wheel of a vehicle they could be up to nine times more likely to have an accident.
Despite highly effective treatment being available on the NHS, campaigners say a significant number of sufferers are undiagnosed due to the concerns they have over losing their driving licence and livelihood if they are told they can no longer get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
In fact the RAC Business survey found 80% agreed that drivers are unlikely to raise concerns with their GP, the DVLA, or their boss that they may suffer from OSAS, because they are afraid of losing their licence.
The partnership group, made up of leading medical and motor industry figures, is now calling on the Government, and the Department of Health in particular, to make diagnosis and treatment of the condition a priority, as it is thought fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel could account for 20% of accidents on the roads.
Jenny Powley, RAC Business Corporate Sales Director, said:
"What our research shows is that there is clearly a demand for more information and greater awareness among businesses about this condition, which can have devastating consequences if left undiagnosed, both for the driver and other road users."
"When you consider the significant number of commercial drivers affected, and the wider consequences if a driver has an accident due to falling asleep at the wheel, it must surely be a public health priority for the Government, and they have a role to play in ensuring employers are aware."
If you would like to find out more about the condition, the OSA Partnership website is full of useful advice for potential sufferers as well as employers. Go to: http://www.osapartnershipgroup.co.uk