As we all know, the Coronavirus epidemic that has swept across the world is continuing at unprecedented rates across the UK. While governments have had to enforce lockdown measures and institute strict measures like social distancing, sanitisation, and the wearing of masks across Europe and the world to prevent spreading the disease, businesses delivering essential services and goods have a vital role to play in society. This includes transporting goods such as medicine and food where truck drivers fulfil an invaluable role.
During the epidemic, truck drivers are constantly exposed to the risk of contracting Covid-19 and potentially spreading the virus to others they come into contact with during their working day as well as their family members when they return home. In this blog post, The LGV Training Company aims to explore and consolidate the various rules, advice, and changes that governing bodies and senior industry management are currently advocating and implementing. Our purpose is to ensure that when you take to the road during these challenging times that you will be protected, well-informed, and up-to-date with the latest requirements set out for essential service providers.
Are Truck Drivers Considered Essential Workers?
According to gov.co.uk, HGV drivers who deliver goods such as food, medicine, and veterinary requirements, along with school teachers, NHS staff, and people in the food industry, are considered key workers who perform essential services that are imperative during the pandemic.
Changes to HGV Driver Rules and Hours
During the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the demand for essential goods with a concomitant increase in demand for truck drivers to deliver such goods. To help support and keep up with the demand for the delivery of essential goods during the pandemic, the Department of Transport has had to relax the original regulations for driving hours allowed for truck drivers. Although this will not necessarily affect road safety or the welfare of drivers the changes include the following:
• Extension of the EU driving limit from 9 hours to 11 hours per day;
• Reduction of daily rest requirements from 11 hours to 9 hours per day;
• 45-minute breaks to be taken after 5 1/2 hours of driving instead of 4 1/2 hours;
• Weekly driving limits have been increased from 56 hours to 60 hours per week;
• Fortnightly driving limits have been increased from 90 hours per week to 60 hours per week.
To prevent the risk of fatigue and accidents, these new rules should be strictly adhered to as the Department for Transport has made it clear that driver safety should not be compromised because of these changes. Employers remain responsible for the safety and health of their employees and they should not expect drivers to drive whilst tired as it could be dangerous for drivers and other road users.
Following Hygiene Safety Requirements Whilst on the Road
To curtail the spread of the Coronavirus, governments all over the world have been releasing several hygiene guidelines for the public to follow. Some of these guidelines may be difficult for truck drivers to follow whilst on the road, however, there are some things truck drivers can do to help reduce the spread of the virus on their shifts:
• Wash your hands as often as possible for at least twenty seconds or make frequent use of anti-bacterial hand sanitisers;
• Use disposable gloves when handling goods or when refuelling;
• Avoid touching your face especially after touching surfaces;
• Keep a safe distance of at least two metres from others when outside the truck;
• Cover your face and nose with a tissue to catch any sneezes or coughs and safely dispose of it immediately.
As truck drivers are key workers involved in performing essential services, the Road Haulage Association and Public Health England have been working together to ensure that they are permitted the use of handwashing facilities and toilets at various UK distribution centres. During this time UK Haulier has developed a live truck shop finder that truck drivers can benefit from.