The fitness U-turn - Werner Enterprises

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Werner Fitness CardBy Erin Golden
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Crete Carrier Corp. wants to know how well its drivers are sleeping.

The Lincoln-based parent company of three trucking operations — Crete Carrier, Shaffer Trucking and Hunt Transportation — is one of the transportation firms doing more to ensure that its drivers are healthy and alert when they hit the highway. That means providing information about wellness, both online and at terminals around the country, along with offering blood pressure and heart rate testing.

But it also means offering drivers an in-depth checkup that can determine if they have sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that can increase the risk of a variety of health problems — and the risk of driving accidents.

The company put sleep study clinics in terminals in Utah, Texas and Pennsylania in mid-2009. Tim Aschoff, Crete's vice president of risk management, said it was an important investment because drivers' lifestyles make it more likely that they'll develop the problem. But at the same time, he said, being on the road means it can be nearly impossible to get the right kind of screening.

Werner Fitness CenterWhen Crete's approximately 5,000 drivers get regular health assessments, they're also screened for sleep apnea risk and referred to the company's sleep clinics.

"Our goal is to have the best driving force out there, and once you obtain those good drivers, you want to maintain them and make sure they're safe and healthy," Aschoff said.

At trucking giant Werner Enterprises, employees who work at — or pass by — the company's Sarpy County headquarters can take laps around an outdoor track, start a pickup game on the basketball or volleyball courts, or work out in the gym. In the company cafeteria, workers can carry a "healthy eating" punch card for leaner meal options. Once they've accumulated 10 punches, they can select a free healthy item off the menu.

Werner hopes to build similar facilities in some of its larger terminals in other cities. But in the meantime, the most direct route to reach many of the company's more than 12,000 employees... Continue reading.