During the pandemic, many of us have relied on delivery drivers. As people have been unable to venture out into restaurants and shops, we have had to switch to takeaways and online shopping, all of which usually requires delivery to our doors. Online grocery shopping also doubled last year as people chose to stay at home rather than face supermarkets.
With the shift towards online shopping, delivery drivers have had to work consistently throughout the pandemic. Transportation has carried a crucial role in enabling supply chains to operate as efficiently as possible, even in the face of travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Due to the critical role these workers have and their frequent interaction with customers, they must undertake their roles safely to protect their health and the health of others. This means understanding the risks posed in the industry and employers taking responsibility to implement the proper measures to enable a post-pandemic recovery.
In our guide, we have outlined the threats presented to delivery drivers during the course of their working day and the solutions that will limit the spread of COVID-19.
Hand hygiene on the move
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the public has been encouraged to utilise good hand hygiene as a preventative measure. Similar guidance has been enforced across workplaces, with the HSE advising staff have access to handwashing facilities through the working day.
For those working in vehicles, hand hygiene is a more significant challenge. Few lorries, vans or cars come equipped with a sink, and the constant travel means that workers do not have consistent access to handwashing facilities. As such, alternative measures must be used to enable staff to maintain adequate hygiene, such as hand sanitiser.
Hand sanitiser is beneficial to drivers as it is easily portable – and even wearable – meaning it can be used on the go in almost every setting. It can also be incredibly effective in killing bacteria, including coronavirus particles, if you select a high-grade sanitiser. In some cases, it can even provide better protection than handwashing alone.
Ensuring your drivers are equipped with personal hand sanitisers can empower them to clean their hands even on the move. If they are handling goods and coming into contact with others, such as your customers, this could prove essential in halting the transmission of COVID-19, as well as general sickness and illness, by preventing germs from moving between people and surfaces.
Interaction with others
Depending on the role that workers are fulfilling, they may come into contact with others. This includes drivers bringing deliveries to people’s home or other businesses. It is even more essential for these employees that measures are put in place to protect their health and enable customers to feel comfortable when receiving goods.
There are several measures you can implement for COVID-security. Many couriers have chosen contact-free approaches to their deliveries, in which customers do not need to sign for goods. It also means that staff can leave deliveries at doorsteps or at designated points to prevent physical contact. At the very least, deliverers should place parcels at the doorstep and step away before a customer answers to comply with social distancing protocol.
Additionally, PPE can be used to reduce the risks further. This could include face masks when encountering customers, such as when delivering to their homes, as well as sanitising hands between deliveries or even wearing gloves. Masks, in particular, can act as a visible indication of COVID compliance, which may also help to ease any customer concerns. This will enable you to maintain a good business reputation and continue to serve consumers safely.
Similarly, you may need to interact with others while collecting or dropping off parcels at depots or warehouses. Once more, you will need to implement social distancing protocol and the wearing of face masks to reduce the risk of transmission between colleagues at these times.
For staff working in vehicles, the government guidance is to avoid car sharing where possible. However, there may be occasions when more than one worker is required to sit in the same vehicle at one time, such as for heavy deliveries. In these instances, precautions are necessary to keep all workers safe, mainly if they will be working close.
If two or more staff members are working from one vehicle, you should aim to create as much distance as possible. As two metres are unlikely to be possible, it may be best to encourage workers to sit side by side (such as in the driver and front passenger seat) and avoid directly facing one another. Staff should also wear face masks when two metres of distance isn’t achievable to limit the risk of transmission.
It’s recommended to open windows where possible to allow for better ventilation, which can blow away COVID-19 particles and reduce the likelihood of contamination.
If car-sharing is required in your business, aim to bubble staff together so that the same people are continually sharing. This will limit the number of people from different households in contact with one another, which can prevent widespread outbreaks across your workforce. Once you have established bubbles, aim to stick to them for as long as possible.
Finally, you may also want to employ lateral flow testing amongst your staff before they car share to identify any potential COVID-19 cases ahead of time before it spreads to colleagues. The deadline to order these for your business was 12th April, but if you missed this, it is still possible to get tests from approved private providers or inform your staff of local testing sites where they can be tested. If you are registered, you can order tests for free until 30th June 2021 for employees to complete at work or home.
Even if staff are not sharing vehicles simultaneously, they may be using the same vehicle on different shifts. If various individuals occupy the vehicle, even at opposing times, there is a risk that germs can be transferred between people and spread illness.
To reduce the risk of transmission, vehicles should be thoroughly cleaned between shifts in the same way you would expect an office to be. This means having adequate equipment and a set schedule that ensure every vehicle is cleaned when required. Pay careful attention to communal touchpoints, such as keys, gear sticks, controls, steering wheels and fuel caps.
It’s also worth having wipes in the vehicle so that drivers can clean it on the go. The driver should also remove waste and belongings at the end of their shift. This is on top of asking drivers to wash their hands before entering and exiting the vehicle to minimise the threat of germs further.
Even if a large part of your workforce works from vehicles during their shift, there may still be physical premises that staff visit for your business, such as warehouses, offices and transport hubs. There will likely be shared facilities within these premises, such as bathrooms, collection points, security offices, and hallways.
In these areas, as with any other workplace, it is fundamental that you implement necessary precautions to allow social distancing and reduce risk. There are many ways you can do this.
Firstly, consider how you can limit the number of people on-site at any time. This can be done by creating shift patterns or staggering collection or drop-off times, so drivers do not arrive at the same place at once. You may also place caps on how many people are allowed in an area and encourage other staff to wait outside or in vehicles until there is free space. You should allow only one person to load the vehicle where possible.
Next, you need to manage the flow of people moving through your premises. This could include creating a one-way system with separate entrance and exit points to prevent people from crossing paths. Be sure to use clear signage to indicate the plan, especially if your staff aren’t always based on-site and may not be aware of new rules.
You may want to encourage mask-wearing while indoors and place hand sanitisation facilities around the site so people can disinfect their hands at various points.
Finally, you need to ensure systematic cleaning of all work areas, including bathrooms and break areas. As with cleaning your fleet of vehicles, this will help remove any germs present in communal areas and prevent outbreaks from occurring on your site.
Those working in vehicles should experience the same level of COVID-security as you would expect in traditional workplaces. As these workers are likely to be contacting others, whether it’s delivering to the homes of customers or collecting goods from warehouses, it is even more essential that practices are put in place to minimise coronavirus threat.
By ensuring adequate PPE, vehicle cleaning and hand hygiene through sanitiser, you can help staff to carry out their jobs safely, with less risk to them and others. Similarly, limiting car-sharing and having necessary measures when required will help reduce transmission between colleagues while allowing for productivity.
For complete government guidance about working in vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic, you can read their online manual.
You can also utilise our ‘Working safely in vehicles’ training course, which will inform you and your workforce about best practice to remain protected against the threat of COVID-19. During the course, we cover the areas of social distancing, PPE, hygiene and what to do when a case is reported amongst your staff or clients.