One of Canada’s most dangerous jobs, just got more dangerous. Truck drivers are now, like it or not, on the frontline fighting Covid-19 delivering essential goods. Drivers run the risk of frequently being exposed to the virus. They may travel to “hot spots”of the disease, without even knowing it. Making sure they stay healthy from the disease and just as importantly, not accidentally spreading it is very much their responsibility. We often hear the term “new normal”, meaning that from now on we will have to deal with the menace of Covid-19 in everything we do. As truck drivers let’s stay smart and keep everyone healthy and safe. Let’s all stay “Covid Safe” in everything we do. Here’s some healthy “handy” tips.
The first guideline is a no brainer. If you feel sick, stay off the job! Don’t run the risk of spreading the disease by working when you don’t feel well. Always practice physical distancing, stay 2 metres from others. Wearing a face mask when in public will also be part of our new normal. No more handshakes. Fist and knuckle bumps will be our new germ free greeting. Wash your hands whenever you can, hot water improves the effectiveness of soap. Remember that fuel pumps can easily spread Covid infection, always wear gloves then pitch them after fuelling. Always carry hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes in the cab, use them often when exiting and entering your rig.
Truck drivers do not have the luxury of working from home, but they can use the tablet or computer to plan ahead and reduce Covid risks and personal contact when not necessary. Know which rest areas and truck stops are open. Know where you can use washroom facilities. Make sure you have time to get to a safe place to eat or rest and know when docks will be accepting trucks to avoid parking in unfamilar areas. Use computers to reduce paper transactions, meaning fewer personal contacts on the job. Reducing face to face contact is a key part of social distancing.
Creating a sterile environment in your cab is extremely important. Just like a surgeon, your cab is your operating room and your “safe” zone. Sterilize all surfaces inside your cab by wiping them down with disinfectant, bleach or soap and water. The Covid virus lives on surfaces such as steel and plastic for up to 72 hours and even cardboard for up to 24 hours. So you have to make the assumption that while out of your sterile zone anything you touch may have coronavirus on it. Keep a supply of plastic gloves on hand in your cab and wear them out of your cab. Door handles, fuel pump handles they too may well have the virus. Carefully remove and toss your gloves before you climb back into your cab. If you can’t wear them, it is essential to wash your hands, failing that to use a hand sanitizer. The potential is the virus could be living on anything you touch outside of your cab. I always have hand sanitizer inside my vehicle and use it often. You can spread the virus when you touch your face, mouth, eyes, nose with you hands.
Remember to sanitize your phone, computer keyboard or tablet. Use wipes to regularly clean the inside of the cab, door handles, pens, clip boards, and any other high-touch surfaces. Try to eat in your cab or outside and use disposable utensil when using purchased meals. Try and avoid groups of people. Where a mask whenever you are out of the cab and interacting with others. They may not see your smile, but you can definitely share a laugh or tell them you’re smiling.
One thing that we can easily overlook during this global crisis, is that the average age of Canadian truck drivers is 48. Which means that many of the drivers are well into their 50s and even 60s, an age group that is more vulnerable to the affects of coronavirus. More than a few drivers are walking away from the job, rather than face the hassles and the danger of Covid-19. This in an industry that is already struggling to find new driver recruits. Needless to say the industry as a whole needs to step up to ensuring driver safety. But obviously so much of driver safety is literally in the hands of each and every driver and his or her adoption of Covid clean practices.
Coronavirus Covid-19 has definitely challenged and changed all our lives, it will take some time for us to all adjust to these changes. But like it or lump it, time is not an option right now. No doubt we will lament “the gold old days” before we ever heard the words Covid-19. Most important for us in trucking is to embrace the essential and key part we lead in the supply chain providing for everyone. We are all extremely dependent on the health and wellbeing of the trucking industry to get us through this battle. More importantly we are all reliant on the health and wellbeing of every trucker out there, to stay physically healthy and well. You are the backbone of our defence against Covid-19 and have a key role in keeping us all well and hopefully get our economy back closer to normal. So please, use common sense and follow these “Covid Safe” guidelines and help get us back on our feet!