Sleep apnoea on agenda at ATA convention

Starting next Wednesday (May 16) at Sydney’s Rosehill Gardens, the 2012 Australian Trucking Association (ATA) convention will feature a critical session about how to take action on sleep apnoea – a medical condition that could affect up to 40 percent of truck drivers.

Lisa Sharwood

Sleep apnoea is a condition where a person has difficulty breathing whilst asleep, causing their sleep to be disturbed. This can then lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and poor reaction times. People with sleep apnoea are often unaware of it, and the existing medical standards usually don’t detect it.

Delegates at the convention will hear from Lisa Sharwood from the George Institute for Global Health and Don Osterberg from North American trucking firm Schneider National as they discuss the dangers of sleep apnoea in drivers, and how operators can help them.

Lisa is the lead author of a study into sleep apnoea in commercial truck drivers. Her research, recently published in international science journal Sleep, showed that while some 40 percent of drivers may suffer from sleep apnoea, only 12 percent are picked up under current medical requirements.

A critical care nurse by training, Lisa is well aware of the dangers of sleepiness in long distance drivers. Her research highlights the risk of leaving these health issues unattended.

Also speaking on the issue, Don Osterberg from Schneider National in the US will outline the processes he has used to great effect within the company.

Shortly after Don’s arrival at Schneider in 2004, he met with the grieving family of William Badger who was killed when a Schneider driver fell asleep behind the wheel.

Don’s promise to the family was that the tragedy would not be in vain. Six years later, William’s daughter Dawn presented Don with the first ever Distinguished Safety Leadership award at the Sleep Apnoea and Trucking Conference in 2010.

The Australian Trucking Convention will be held in Sydney from May 16 to 19 at the Rosehill Gardens Event Centre. To attend the session, register as a delegate at www.ataevents.net.au.

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