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COVID-19: Safeguarding Employees in Logistics and Haulage

With logistics workers playing a key role in continuity of supply chains, logistics and haulage companies need to safeguard their workers by mitigating employee risks.

The Coronavirus continues to spread within the UK, and logistics workers are amongst those classified as key workers [ref 1], because of the vital role they continue to play in the continuity of supply chains, moving supplies between factories and to delivery point such as emergency medical aid suppliers and hospitals, supermarkets, and now directly to private customers.

These workers visit multiple sites in their work and so they face multiple risks of exposure. To protect them now and in the months ahead, operators need to establish mitigation processes and be ready to adept these as circumstances change.

It is important that organisations keep up to date with the latest advice [ref 2] and take steps to help to safeguard their employees.

Hygiene and Social Distancing

  • Personal hygiene: Ensure workers have access to adequate supplies of disposable towels and soap, and encourage them to wash their hands after each contact.
  • Surface sanitization: Increase cleaning routines of the driver compartments of all vehicles, including vehicle and loading bay doors. Cleaning of delivery and collection points should also be increased, including the warehouse, offices, and driver waiting rooms. Add or increase surface wipe downs between shift hand-overs to reduce transmissions between teams.
  • Early and effective notification: Employees should be urged to report any symptoms of illness, however minor, and in particular, coughs, temperatures, fatigue, and muscle aches. Once they have reported, employees should be removed from rotation and sent home or directed to seek medical help.
  • Work place distancing: Avoid multiple employees sharing vehicles whenever possible, while avoiding a significant change from normal practice for the lone worker, such as extra heavy lifting and other safety risks.
  • Segregation of areas: Segregate the areas that are most at risk from outside contamination, such as the goods reception, from other areas, such as storage, order fulfilment, or office.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact at delivery points: Many organisations will not require drivers to load/unload, but encourage workers to stay in the vehicle to maintain social distancing.
  • New employees or agency staff: The requirements around driver training and competency remain unchanged. It may be more difficult to use the usual methods of monitoring a new driver’s performance, with new guidance on social distancing. Organizations should use their telematics and in-vehicle cameras to monitor new driver behaviour.
  • Changing risk profile: Recognize that the health and safety risk profile of the business is likely to change as people self-isolate, and that usual risk assessments and controls may no longer work. Employers must re-evaluate and change procedures in order to minimize foreseeable risks in the face of current and evolving circumstances.

With pressure on operators to meet increased demand, the next few months will be challenging. Keeping the supply chains moving will rely on prioritizing the health and safety of the workforce, and the long-term health of the business relies on proper attention to and care for employees now.