Protecting Drivers and Deliveries
The pandemic has forced companies to adjust quickly and effectively to situations beyond their control. But one factor they can control is the way they train and provide support for employees in order to keep them safe.
For long-haul truck drivers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, potential sources of exposure include having close contact with truck stop attendants, store workers, dock workers, other truck drivers or others with COVID-19, and “touching your nose, mouth, or eyes after contacting surfaces touched or handled by a person with COVID-19.” Among the Atlanta-based group’s recommendations:
• Schedule driver routes to allow for adequate sleep, and use fatigue-management strategies. Understand that the current environment could elevate stress levels among drivers. Provide resources to help manage stress.
• Conduct worksite assessments to identify COVID-19 prevention strategies. Institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between drivers, other coworkers, and customers, such as developing policies and technology options that allow and encourage contactless deliveries, such as no-signature delivery. These options limit contact, provide space and avoid the sharing of items like pens and electronic signature pads between drivers and individuals at the delivery location.
• Make a plan with employees as to what to do if they become sick while on the road. Include where to stop, where and how to seek medical advice and treatment, and plans for freight delivery.
• Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
• Consider drafting non-punitive emergency sick leave policies if sick leave is not offered to some or all employees. Employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave or to return to work.
• Employers should have a COVID-19 response plan to protect drivers, following CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
• Take steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if a driver is sick. Actively encourage sick drivers to stay home. Sick drivers diagnosed with COVID-19 shouldn’t return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
• Take additional precautions to address risks associated with ride-alongs or team driving (two drivers in the cab on a long-haul run) when they cannot be avoided. For example, install a removable barrier between the driver and passenger that does not obstruct the task of driving and/or to separate sleeper berth.
• Pre-qualify truck stops, rest areas and hotels to ensure such facilities are open and supplied, and follow recommended COVID-19 safety practices, such as cleanliness and disinfection (such as routine cleaning, available hand-sanitizing stations and private showers); proper food handling and foodservice (such as replacing self-service with full service); and contactless fuel payment.
• Continue to comply with current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) external icon regulations.