Long-haul truck drivers spend many hours alone in the cab of a truck. However, there are times when there will be increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. For long-haul truck drivers, potential sources of exposure include coming into close contact with truck stop attendants, store workers, dock workers, or other truck drivers, and by touching the nose, mouth, or eyes after contacting surfaces touched or handled by a person with COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the following steps so truck drivers can protect themselves against the spread of the novel coronavirus:

CDC Recommendations

  • Notify a supervisor and stay home if having symptoms.
  • Make a plan with your employer and your family as to what to do if you become sick while you’re on the road. Include where to stop, where and how to seek medical advice and treatment, and plans for freight delivery.
  • Follow CDC-recommended steps when sick. Do not return to work until the criteria to continue home isolation are met, in consultation with health-care providers and state and local health departments.
  • Follow CDC-recommended precautions and notify a supervisor if you are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
  • Limit close contact with others by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet when possible.
  • Limit time spent outside of the truck cab during fueling, loading and unloading, and at rest and truck stops.
  • Use paperless, electronic invoicing for fueling, deliveries, and other tasks when available.
  • Contact facilities in advance to make an appointment for unloading cargo. Be aware that some facilities may not grant access to restrooms, and plan as best you can.
  • Use a radio/phone to talk with dock managers or other drivers, if possible.
  • Pack food, water, and supplies to limit the number of stops.
  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Keep your truck well-ventilated.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Cloth face coverings may prevent people who don’t know they have the virus from transmitting it to others. These face coverings are not surgical masks or respirators and are not appropriate substitutes for them in workplaces where masks or respirators are recommended or required.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a routine basis, such as:

  • In the truck cab (driver door handle, steering wheel, seat belt and buckle, arm and head rest, seat cover, turn signal, wiper controls, dashboard, air ducts, radio, and temperature controls).
  • In the sleeper berth (light switches, mattress tray, temperature controls, and other flat surfaces).
  • If a third party must have access to the interior of your truck (for example, mechanics, other drivers, inspectors), request that the third party clean and disinfect the truck before turning it back over to you.

For disinfection, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, diluted household bleach solutions, or alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, and are appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s directions for use and clean hands afterwards; more detailed cleaning and disinfecting guidance is also available.

Practice proper hand hygiene. This is an important infection control measure. Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60-percent alcohol.

In addition, the CDC advised drivers to:





  • Avoid touching surfaces often touched by others when outside of the cab.
  • Not share personal protective equipment (PPE) (such as vests, safety glasses, hard hats), tools, phones, radios, or other personal items.
  • Use pre-qualified truck stops or hotels identified by your employer as having appropriate COVID-19 protections.
  • Continue to comply with current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.

Employers should have a COVID-19 response plan to protect drivers, following CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers:

Employers should:

  • Reduce transmission among employees
  • Take steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if a driver is sick.
  • Actively encourage sick drivers to stay home. Sick drivers diagnosed with COVID-19 shouldn’t return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
  • Provide drivers with accurate information about COVID-19, how it spreads, and risk of exposure.
  • Be aware that some drivers may be at higher risks for serious illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Put in place specific policies to minimize face-to-face contact between these drivers, or assign work tasks that allow them to maintain a distance of six feet from other workers, customers, and visitors.
  • Provide training to drivers on proper hand-washing practices and other routine preventive measures. This will help prevent the spread of many diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Provide disposable disinfectant wipes so that surfaces commonly touched can be wiped down. Provide drivers training on manufacturer’s directions for use; more detailed cleaning and disinfecting guidance is also available.
  • Pre-qualify truck stops, rest areas, and hotels to ensure such facilities are open, supplied and follow recommended COVID-19 safety practices.

In addition,

Employers should follow all applicable local, state, and federal regulations and public health agency guidelines by:

  • Following the CDC guidance for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Reintegrating exposed, asymptomatic workers back to work, while discussed in the guidance, should not be misinterpreted as the first or most appropriate option.
  • Designating a person who is responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. Drivers should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Using a hotline for employees to voice concerns anonymously.
  • Making a plan with employees as to what to do if they become sick while on the road. Include where to stop, where and how to seek medical advice and treatment, and plans for freight delivery.
  • Implementing flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices. Consider drafting non-punitive emergency sick leave policies if sick leave is not offered to some or all employees. Employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.
  • Providing information on who to contact if employees become sick. If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Reaching out to local public health officials to establish ongoing communications to facilitate access to relevant information before and during a local outbreak.
  • Scheduling driver routes to allow for adequate sleep, and use fatigue management strategies.
  • Understanding that the current environment could elevate stress levels among drivers. Provide resources to help manage stress.

 

(from Reuters)


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