A new study points out the benefits of effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in truck drivers, including economic, health and safety benefits
, according to the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine).

The study, led by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chief medical officer of Waste Management, used insurance claims records to evaluate the effects of OSA treatment in trucks drivers.

For the 156 drivers who received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other treatments for OSA, health plan costs decreased by an average of $2,700 in the first year and another $3,100 in the second year. Meanwhile, 92 drivers who were diagnosed with OSA but not treated saw no change in costs.

The treated drivers also missed fewer work days -- an average 4.4 days in the first year -- and had lower short-term disability costs--$528 over two years.

On average, treatment for OSA led to "over $6,000 in total health plan and disability cost savings per treated driver," the researchers said. Total costs decreased by 41 percent in drivers treated for OSA, compared to an 8 percent decrease in untreated drivers.

"Addressing OSA in the workplace offers the possibility of early identification and intervention for a chronic disease that is associated with increased health benefit utilization," said Dr. Hoffman and colleagues.