By Gary Johnson, Director of Risk and Compliance Management, Lytx Inc.
COVID-19 has not only proven the trucking industry can weather the storm, it also has solidified the importance of this industry in keeping our economy and essential businesses running strong. This would not be possible if it weren’t for the women and men who make up the entire workforce behind the trucking industry.
Moving forward, fleets are planning for the eventuality of the end of quarantines in the coming weeks or months and, hopefully, a return to full capacity. As companies prepare to gear back up, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 30 issued guidelines for businesses looking to reopen. The three-step guidance in the CDC’s guide suggests that businesses:
1. Develop a plan. Assess the work environment and take note of the areas that are frequently touched such as light switches and door handles or objects that are shared including office supplies. Establish a cleaning protocol and schedule.
2. Implement the plan. The CDC recommends cleaning surfaces with soap and water, then use EPA-approved disinfectants, making sure to always follow the label instructions.
3. Maintain and revise your plan. It’s important to stick to your plan and remain vigilant about your cleaning regimen. At the same time, be sure to stay up to date about the latest best practices, which can evolve over time.
For fleets specifically, here’s a checklist with some examples of best practices to keep their drivers and overall workforce healthy and safe:
- Clean all touch points. Do not keep used paper towels or wipes in the cab. Dispose of them in an outside receptacle.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you enter and exit a facility.
- Clean your vehicle pre-trip and post-trip. Consider giving drivers a laminated checklist of high-touch areas they should clean, including mirrors, fuel latches, glove compartments, visors, touch screens, and seat belts, as well as the more obvious areas such as door handles, wheels, and control switches.
- Consider avoiding driver lounges. If you need to use a driver lounge, practice safe social distancing and don’t partake of communal food or beverages. Companies can remove chairs or space them far apart to allow for social distancing.
- Check in often with employees. Do they have any symptoms? If they are on a long-haul route and think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, have them monitor their symptoms. Ask them to purchase a thermometer to self-monitor their temperature for signs of fever, and continue to limit their contact with others as much as possible.
- Implement a more rigorous cleaning schedule.
Equipment and shop area
- Assume everything you come into contact with has been exposed to Covid-19. Wipe down shared equipment before and after utilization. Don’t forget computer equipment.
- Set aside a location in your facility for quarantined equipment.
- Ensure that employees know to wash their hands after they have removed disposable gloves.
- Stagger shop work schedules to allow for fewer person-to-person contact.
When you check in with an employee also try and make it fun.
- Ask them if they have seen anything interesting that day.
- Find some trivia that they might be interested in.
- Ask them what they plan to do on their upcoming rest day and then, ask them how it went when they come back on shift.
Drivers at customers locations and truck stops
- Make sure your drivers have cleaning supplies.
- Provide notes to drivers relating to their next stop. Does that customer have any restrictions?
- Instruct your driver to ask if anyone at the upcoming stop has been symptomatic or sick recently? If so, reschedule delivery if necessary.
- Ask your customers what their current policy is relating to COVID-19. Will they allow your driver inside? Make sure your drivers are aware of any restrictions.
- Maintain proper social distancing.
- Avoid accepting items from another person. Ask customers to lay out documentation ahead of your driver’s arrival. If you must sign a document, use your own pen.
Additional resources for fleets
As always, official guidance can be located on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The CDC continually updates their guidance based on new information, so sign up for the CDC’s emails on COVID-19 to get the latest recommendations (the sign-up link is at the bottom of their webpage). For example, the CDC recently added several new symptoms to its list of possible signs of COVID-19, including chills, muscle pain, loss of sense of smell or taste, sore throat, and headaches.
In addition, this OSHA guide to preparing workplaces provides information on:
- Developing an infectious disease preparedness and response plan
- Developing, implementing, and communicating about workplace flexibilities and protections
- Implementing workplace controls
- Using personal protective equipment (PPE)
We at Lytx appreciate all that fleet operators do to keep the economy rolling, particularly in the weeks and months ahead. I hope you all stay safe and healthy!