The national tier system has forced many consumers to complete their Christmas shopping from the sofa. With online orders ramping up, the transport and logistics industry is starting to feel the pressure.
When work increases exponentially and you’re consumed by an overabundance of jobs – it is critical that the vigorous safety protocol required in keeping your company COVID-secure isn’t sidelined. Lockdown may have been eased, but we are far from being out of the woods yet. It is of paramount importance that you ensure the safety of your staff over the Christmas period.
Securing your workplace
To help logistics businesses adjust to the ‘new-normal’, the Government have issued guidelines on the best practices to keep workers and customers safe. This guidance is not itself enshrined in law, however failing to adhere to it will increase employers’ risk of breaching workplace health and safety laws – and lead to the potential failing of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers are legally obligated to “ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all [their] employees.”
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, Government guidance for the transport sector suggests:
- Carrying out a risk assessment to ensure the business fully addresses the risks of COVID-19.
- Ensuring that employees who feel unwell or display symptoms stay at home and self-isolate – requiring them to come into work while self-isolating is illegal as of 28 September 2020.
- Increasing the frequency of handwashing and other hygiene measures.
- Revising schedules to reduce contact between drivers (for example, staggering when drivers arrive at depots, collection and delivery times and break times).
- Introducing contactless delivery processes and avoiding physical contact when handing over packages to customers.
- Keeping the number of people in vehicles to a minimum, implementing social distancing practices and ensuring good ventilation.
- Ensuring social distancing not just within vehicles but also depots, break rooms and any other places drivers may congregate outside of the vehicle.
- Looking after employees
Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union which represents over 50,000 lorry drivers, conducted a survey that suggests just one in five drivers had access to adequate facilities during the first lockdown. While truckers have had the legal right to use bathrooms in commercial premises since 2017 – there have been numerous reports from UK drivers alleging that many have been denied access to toilets and washing facilities when making deliveries.
Handwashing and personal hygiene have proven to be a key method of protection against COVID-19. If drivers are being denied access to essential facilities, they cannot comply with the Government’s primary advice to stop the spread of the virus. It is important that truckers inform their employers of the specific businesses refusing them admission – the companies should be reported to the HSE and Public Health England.
Considering this widespread problem, haulage firms should provide their drivers with masks, anti-bacterial wipes and a sufficient supply of hand sanitiser, with at least 60% alcohol in order to successfully eliminate the coronavirus. Although these solutions are generally adequate; the most effective means of eradicating COVID-19 remains warm water and soap. Portable sinks for lorries are also available and enable drivers to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds at a time.
A safer future
Over the coming months, logistics providers will need to optimise and automate as much as possible as well as collaborate with others to operate safely, efficiently and pre-emptively. Even though the first vaccinations are set to take place in the coming days – it is not expected to impact the spread of the virus until mid to late summer – in the meantime, the safe and efficient movement of goods remain at the very heart of an economic recovery.
While it is certainly not the end of the road for brick and mortar stores – the shift to e-commerce this Christmas will likely permanently transform the way in which many shop. Even before COVID-19, retailers were shaping the next generation of shopping experiences involving delivery to people’s homes – therefore, haulage firms should prepare for many busy Christmases to come.
Try our free demo today and digitise your business with TrackTrans. Our Transport Management System is the best way to ensure efficiency during this challenging time. TrackTrans’ electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) application allows for photographic certification – enabling your drivers to keep a safe distance from customers when confirming deliveries.