That's a lot of productivity that could translate into GDP, so where do we start? One way is to look at which business sectors are sustaining the greatest slice of these $1.1 trillion losses.
Recently, a Gallup-Healthways survey concluded that 35.7% transportation workers are obese, followed by those in manufacturing (29.8%) and installation (28.3%). Construction workers lead the pack in smoking (32.2%), followed by those in installation (30.5%) and transportation (27.5%).
Based on this data, transportation workers are at particularly high risks for hypertension, heart disease, cancer and more. This in turn puts their employers at high risk of productivity losses, another blow for an industry that has been hard hit by the recession.
It is important that employers and operators in this sector see the warning signs and take action by integrating wellness programs in the workplace. It's not an easy task for a workforce that is mobile, has limited exercise and nutrition choices, and has a significant number of independent contractors, but it has to be a priority. There's already a start with programs like Trucker's News Fit for the Road and various efforts from The Healthy Trucking Association of America. Easy starting points could include weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs in health-insurance plans. Beyond that, employers and associations can organize meetings, form support groups to help workers quit lighting up, and organize health fairs to educate employees of the potential risks involved.
If the incidence of obesity and smoking are lowered, transportation businesses can save billions of dollars in lost output. A fewer proactive steps will get this industry rolling towards lowering the health-care costs in their sector and in the overall economy.