Bus drivers: Occupational stress and stress prevention

Studies on the work and health of bus drivers yield comparable results: high demands, low control and low support. This combination spells stress and, consequently, an increased risk of physical and mental occupational ill health, leading to absenteeism and to decreased productivity of employees and enterprises. This paper is primarily directed at bus drivers in metropolitan areas, although many of the recommendations made are also valid for rural, long-distance drivers.

The first chapter of this working paper presents an overview and the main results of these studies. First an overview will be shown of the most important studies on the work and health of bus drivers (Section 1.1). Next, several questions will be dealt with:
— What do we know about sickness absenteeism, work disablement and turnover of bus drivers (Section 1.2)?
— What are the main health outcomes as mentioned by the drivers (Section 1.3)?
— What are the psycho-physiological costs of driving a bus (Section 1.4)?
— What are the main constraints in the working situation (Section 1.5)?
— What is the ergonomic quality of the bus driver's cabin (Section 1.6)?

The second chapter is directed towards the prevention of work stress in bus drivers. Many recommendations are given in order to reduce work stress. Several practical experiences from various bus companies demonstrate that it is possible to improve both the quality of work and productivity.

These recommendations relate to ergonomics of the bus cabin (Section 2.2); job rotation and "combination jobs" (Section 2.3); timetables, shift schedules and the quality of break periods (Section 2.4); and the social work environment and management style (Section 2.5).

The third chapter shows how such a successful approach can be achieved.