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Tips To Keep Workers Safe As They Return Back To Work

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For several weeks now, workplaces across America have essentially shut down, or have had limited shifts, due to stay-at-home orders. Local governments are starting to ease restrictions so businesses can get back to full capacity. Safety will remain the number one priority. New protocols will be needed not only for employees, but for vendors and guests too. Shippers, who manage the flow of goods through warehouses and docks, need to consider not only the safety of their employees, but of the numerous truck drivers who pick up and drop off their products. 

Leveraging the Sleek Fleet Carrier Network, we surveyed hundreds of truck drivers to find out what changes in protocol they have personally experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. Minus a few outliers, drivers were aligned on what shippers have done right, and wrong, to make them feel safe. In addition to employee protocol, here are top safety observations, along with recommendations, from drivers:  

1. A large percentage of truck drivers, 44%, said eliminating personal interactions by staying in the truck is the biggest, and easiest, safety measure to help aid in social distancing. Other suggestions included signing PODs remotely/electronically and hanging signs or placing X marks on the ground to remind workers to stay 6 feet apart. 

2. Body temperature checks was voted as the 2nd highest safety protocol to help keep the workforce safe. To minimize disruption, some manufacturers have mailed reusable temperature strips to their employees, and vendors, instructing folks to perform an at-home test (no more than 2 hours) prior to arrival. Some companies also require completion of a short questionnaire; questions include:

  • Have you experienced cough, fever, sore throat, difficulty breathing and/or diarrhea in the past 14 days? Yes or No
  • Is your body temperature 100.4F/ 38C or higher today? Yes or No
  • Have you been in contact with a person who has been confirmed, or is waiting for confirmation, of Covid-19? Yes or No

Truck drivers noted that most companies have temperature strips readily available for on-site testing. Depending on the temperature and questionnaire outcome, the worker may not be permitted on company property. Additional information can be found by visiting www.cdc.gov.  

3. It’s no surprise that the biggest driver disruption has been limited access to a restroom. Many companies have placed a portable bathroom by the docks, but without a regular cleaning schedule, and running water station (with a soap dispenser to wash hands), many drivers said they would not use it.  

4. Truck drivers also noted that using hand sanitizer before, and after, each load was helpful to keep the frontlines safe. Shippers can help by providing sanitization stations at all points of entry and exit. Shippers can also hand out free sanitizer and cleaning supplies for drivers to take on the road.

5. Research shows that most workers want to be kept informed, so make sure to effectively communicate new safety procedures to employees, and vendors, prior to arrival. Some companies have developed and distributed a formal packet that includes topics such as: 

  • What has the company done to help keep the workforce safe, such as thoroughly sanitizing workspaces and posting safety protocol signage throughout the warehouse?
  • What will the company promise to do to help keep the workforce safe, including daily cleaning rituals? 
  • What do employees need to do, including at-home health assessment? 
  • What do visitors need to do, including stay in their truck until called upon? 
  • Step-by-step instructions on topics such as: social distancing and how to properly use safety equipment.
  • Frequently asked questions with answers.

As America reopens, workplace safety will be the top priority. New safety measures should be anticipated. Some measures will fall off, while others become a new normal. As long as guidelines are developed, communicated, and followed, it will be much easier for everyone to get back to work. 

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Reference: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html