COVID Chronicles II: What if Superman Drove a Truck?
The Definition of ‘Essential’
The first post on this blog about the COVID-19 pandemic focused solely on the amazing Idealease affiliates who’ve been helping others in need during these unprecedented times. Efforts ranged from feeding truck drivers as they adapted to new challenges, to supporting underserved people in their communities, such as hungry school kids.
Now, nearly nine months into the pandemic with numbers surging to new highs and projections showing things may get much worse heading into winter, the focus needs to be narrowed to the safety of drivers—these folks are superheroes doing the essential work of providing for everyone from healthcare workers to businesses and farmers to families, all across North America. It’s our responsibility to ensure we look after them, and each other, with Covid precaution best practices.
While there’s been positive talk about potential vaccines, the timetable for their effective rollout is still undetermined and may not be known for quite some time. So, we need to talk about real, common sense health and safety tips every driver should be taking to protect themselves, fellow drivers, and their families.
Respiration Requires Ventilation
We’ve learned a lot since mid-February—while it’s important to wash hands and disinfect surfaces, now we know the primary way the novel coronavirus is transmitted is through microscopic droplets exhaled by an infected person. Moreover, we know that an infected person can take upwards of two weeks to show any symptoms. So dock workers, truck stop attendants, store workers, and even other truckers may seem fine when your driver comes in contact with them, but that may not be the case.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the likelihood of infection when dealing with a COVID-19 positive person: How long are you together? If inside, how big is the room? How close are you to them? How good is the ventilation? The shorter the time, the bigger the space, the greater the distance, and open-air are the best ways to go. But nothing is guaranteed.
To limit exposure as much as possible, here are some tips to have your team keep in mind:
- Limit close contact with others to a distance of 6 feet or greater
- Use paperless, electronic invoicing as much as possible
- Contact someone at the destination ahead of time to schedule drop-off and ask if the bathroom is available to use (it may not be)
- Instead of talking in person, use a phone or radio to talk with dock managers and other drivers
- Pack extra food to limit the number of face-to-face interactions
- Use friendly waves or elbow taps instead of shaking hands
- Soap is preferred to sanitizer, and wash for at least 20 seconds under warm water
You Down with PPE?
Superheroes wear masks to protect their identity so the bad guys don’t know whose loved ones to go after—the same principle applies here, too. Protect your drivers so they can protect others by requiring masks whenever they step outside of their cabs. Once back in the cab, your teams should regularly disinfect all surfaces including the sleeper berth.
If a crew has to drive as a team or as a ride-along, both folks should be masked the entire time, windows should be kept open as much as possible, and separate sleeping arrangements should be made if needed. It should go without saying, but masks and all personal protective equipment (PPE) should never be shared.
Every day is another day closer to everyone emerging out of the pandemic and into the new normal—whatever that will be; we just can’t be sure where we are on the timeline. That being said, we do have some control on how we operate personally. How we help and contribute to this unprecedented event ending sooner makes a difference for the industry and the world.
When so much of the world feels out of our control, the choices we make every day are all the more important. If one person, following all the recommendations to the letter, means the pandemic ends sooner by a day, a week, a month, is it worth it? Ask your friendly neighborhood superhero, they’ll tell you.