COVID-19: Safeguarding Employees in Logistics and Haulage
The coronavirus continues to spread within the UK and logistics workers are amongst those classified as key workers due to the vital role they are playing in the continuity of supply chains and keeping goods on shelves.
Operators are playing a critical role moving emergency medical equipment and supplies to healthcare workers. They are also assisting the food industry by moving supplies between factories and to the supermarkets while delivering daily goods to private customers.
With workers exposed to multiple site locations, processes need to be continuously adapted to mitigate any risk to workers in the challenging months ahead.
As the situation continues to develop, it is important that organisations keep up to date with the latest advice and take steps to help to safeguard their employees.
Hygiene and Social Distancing
- Personal hygiene: Ensure adequate supplies of disposable towels and soap. Encourage employees to wash their hands after each contact.
- Surface sanitisation: Increase cleaning routines; these need to be carried out to the driver compartment entry/exit; steering wheel; at delivery and collection points; throughout the warehouse, offices; and in driver waiting rooms. There should also be surface wipe-downs at shift handovers to help reduce additional transmission.
- Early and effective notification: Employees should report any symptoms of illness, even if minor. Particular attention should be paid to coughs, temperatures, fatigue, and muscle aches. Once reported, employees should be removed from rotation.
- Work place distancing: Avoid multiple employees sharing vehicles, unless the resulting lone-working risk results in other significant safety risks (such as heavy lifting).
- Segregation of areas: Segregate areas that are in contact with the external environment, for example the goods reception, from other areas, such as storage, order fulfilment, and office areas.
- Avoidance of unnecessary contact at delivery points: Many organisations will not require drivers to load or unload so the driver should remain in the vehicle.
- New employees or agency staff: The requirements around driver training and competency remain unchanged. With guidance on social distancing, it may be more difficult to use traditional methods of monitoring new driver performance. Organisations should look to use their telematics and in-vehicle cameras to monitor driver behaviour more closely during the early days of their employment.
- Changing risk profile: Recognise that the health and safety risk profile of the business is likely to change as people are required to self-isolate meaning usual risk assessments and controls may no longer work. The employer must re-evaluate and work to minimise the foreseeable risks in the face of the current and evolving circumstances.
With pressure on operators to meet increased demand, the next few months will pose a challenging period. Prioritising the health and safety of the workforce will be essential in keeping the supply chains moving.