PurposeThe rail driver workplace is full of challenges for effective health management. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how known barriers in rail driving may be overcome by seeking enablers of positive health status and lifestyle.Design/methodology/approachFive focus groups were conducted with 29 rail drivers from four rail organisations across three Australian states. Transcribed data were analysed using directed content analysis and thematic coding to develop health enabler themes and categories.FindingsFormal initiatives to manage health were piecemeal. Efforts to maintain health involved countering deteriorative, and promoting restorative, health factors. Themes systematically illustrated work environmental, adaptational, and autonomous features of health management. Participants expressed many different approaches to enabling positive health status, and how these connected to known barriers.Research limitations/implicationsDiscussion of personal health issues within the rail industry is considered a taboo topic by some, therefore participants who took part in this study data may be more representative of health-conscious drivers.Practical implicationsOccupational health in rail can be enabled in multiple ways, including: improving social support, scheduling certainty, and cross-communication around health behaviours; increasing flexibility and environmental support for health behaviours; and directly promoting dietary control and physical activity engagement. Given the diversity and global representativeness of rail systems found within Australia, the findings have international application.Originality/valueThis study uses a strength-focussed approach to highlight multiple leverage points for organisational rail-driver health interventions across three levels of the system, helping improve health intervention efficacy despite the intractable nature of their environments.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 4, 2017