Truckers were recently called “first responders” by the CEO of an industry group in the US. After all, they’re carrying essentials around the country, ensuring everybody is fed and watered during the coronavirus crisis.
Their importance to people’s health and the health of the economy should not be underestimated. So, you’d assume they’re being taken care of at this time. But drivers are painting an alarming picture out on the roads.
“I’m not given any PPE (personal protective equipment) or cleaning products to protect myself from COVID-19,” trucker David Aldred tells us.
“The trucks are used day and night by many different drivers and if we want to clean the cab prior to our shift then we must do so with our own cleaning kit.”
David, who delivers food and toiletries from manufacturers to distribution centres, says gloves and face masks are “non-existent”, which is perhaps unsurprisingly given the PPE shortage for frontline workers, but is no less acceptable.
He also explains how processes, introduced to firms to reduce the spread of infection, are coming up short.
“For instance, at one distribution centre, all truckers are required to put their keys in a bag before putting them in a locker to stop cross-contamination,” he said. “But the fob for the locker is then handled by lots of different drivers – most of whom don’t have any gloves on – so surely this would break their cross-contamination policy?”
David, who suffers from recurrent pneumonia, is calling on companies to do more to provide basic cleaning equipment and PPE, stressing that it’s proving “impossible” for drivers to follow the government guidelines without them.
However, he’s not holding his breath.
“Companies are not even getting the basics right,” he says. “Some are ignoring guidelines on social distancing. While others won’t even let you use their toilet facilities or fill up your water bottle.
“Meanwhile, motorway services are still charging full price for overnight parking during the pandemic – despite most of the food outlets being closed.”
Asked whether he is going to continue to work given the conditions and the risk to his health, David says he has little choice as he is self-employed.
“I don’t feel safe during these times of uncertainty, but I need to work to pay bills therefore I risk my own health and safety to go to work,” he explains.
It’s time that truckers are given the credit and support they deserve. Many would just take their basic human needs being met right now.
The lack of recognition is something we’re trying to address with our #LoveLogistics campaign. We want to show the respect and support these essential workers deserve, not only during these difficult times, but always.