Agency to test drivers

Dangerous sleep disorder feared

Transport agency Optimum Recruitment Services plans to test some of its drivers for a potentially lethal disorder which causes the brief cessation of breathing during sleep.

Managing director Janet Whitehill, who is also on the executive committee of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s drivers sector, believes the industry must address the problem of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) quickly, particularly as there are often long waiting lists to test for the condition.

A recent study prepared by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, featured on BBC1’s Real Story on 21 November, looked at more than 900 drivers in England and Wales.

The research found that one in three participants have some form of OSA, with about one in six suffering from a form of the illness that would require treatment. With an estimated 500,000 HGV drivers on the UK’s roads, 80,000 drivers could need help.

“I would like to send 10 volunteers from the company to visit a specialist to test for the disorder,” said Whitehill.

“I have heard that the waiting lists are as long as two years for this condition, and I would like to see if the condition is rife with lorry drivers or indeed all drivers.”

Optimum is also planning a driver education seminar, with a health expert to explain how to spot the condition and to answer drivers’ queries.

Each driver on the company's books will also receive an information leaflet and sleep apnoea symptom checklist in their wage packets in the coming weeks.

The condition is mostly found among middle-aged men, traditionally the main candidate base for lorry drivers.

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