Working at home has never been an option for lorry drivers. Obviously. What that means, then, is that employers must do everything they can to protect their workers by minimising the risk of COVID-19.
The UK government has released guidance to help employers do exactly that, while recognising that “you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19”.
The guidance is built around two key areas:
- Increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
- Making every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible).
Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, firms should consider whether the activity is essential. If so, taking all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff, e.g. keeping activity time short.
What employers and employees must remember is: No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.
By and large, logistics and transportation companies should be able to adhere to the guidance and continue to operate; which is why many have continued to work during lockdown.
But there are certain activities and situations where it is less than straightforward to comply with social distancing guidelines, especially with more workers now returning to the workplace.
In addition to taking mitigating actions to reduce the risk of transmission, employers are urged to put in place other measures including staggering arrival and departure times, providing additional parking and loading vehicles ahead of schedule to avoid interaction.
However, the guidelines concede it’s not always possible to keep a distance of 2m inside vehicles. Many in-vehicle tasks need more than one person, for example heavy deliveries or refuse collection, and changing vehicle configurations to create more space may not be practical.
Employers are advised to find alternative solutions to two-person delivery where possible, but where it isn’t, a fixed pairing system should be implemented and they should ensure vehicles are well ventilated.
Regular cleaning of vehicles is also paramount.
Cleaning and hygiene
The virus is also transmissible by touching contaminated surfaces. Therefore, employers are advised to regularly clean work areas and equipment between uses, as well as any objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles, fuel pumps and vehicle keys.
Drivers should be encouraged to wash their hands before boarding vehicles, and should be provided with sufficient hand sanitiser/wipes to clean their hands after each delivery/drop off.
Any waste and belongings should be cleared from a vehicle by the driver at the end of the shift.
Workplaces are advised to put up signs and posters to urge workers to practice good hygiene.
Personal protective equipment
The guidance on PPE is relatively straightforward. Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so. However, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is deemed “not beneficial”.
Workplaces are discouraged from advised drives to use extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
In other words, unless you usually wear PPE or the need for it is stated in the risk assessment, employers are not obliged to provide you with extra PPE.
To read the guidance in full, got to the .GOV website.
Are you satisfied with your employer’s efforts to reduce your risk of COVID-19?