As more cases of the coronavirus crop up across the country, fleets need to have procedures in place to prevent workplace exposures, business interruptions, and more. The CDC has issued several guidelines that can help fleet managers implement best practices to keep their truck drivers healthy and their fleets operational. These practices work well for any acute respiratory illness including the flu so fleets should consider making these policies permanent to ensure a healthier fleet.
Best Practices for a Healthier Fleet
- Strongly recommend that sick employees stay home. While this may seem obvious at face value, initial symptoms of the novel coronavirus are mild, and many office employees and drivers may not think they are sick. Another factor to consider is that some employees may return to work when still ill because they can manage their symptoms with medications (i.e. fever reduces or cough relievers). Employees and drivers should stay home until they are symptom-free without the aid of medication for a minimum of 24 hours (though more data may be needed before we completely understand the nuances of COVID-19).
- Adjust sick leave policies. Many sick leave policies are rigid and often punitive when employees exceed their allotted sick leave. While this is often to reduce excessive absences, it may become unrealistic in the event of coronavirus outbreaks. If schools and daycares close, employees will have to take off work to care for their children. Fleets should also forego the requirement of a doctor’s note for individuals exhibiting signs of respiratory illness. Healthcare providers are likely to be extremely busy with the sudden influx of patients and won’t have time to provide these kinds of notes on demand.
- Consider telecommuting options for office staff. While drivers can’t perform their deliveries from their homes, many backend office tasks can be accomplished remotely. When possible, fleet managers should allow office employees such as dispatchers, marketers, and administrative staff to work from home in the event they must care for children or a sick relative. A disproportionately high number of employees may fall in this category, so fleets need to take steps now to ensure a smooth transition for telecommuting work.
- Stress the importance of good hygiene. Placing posters at all sinks with proper handwashing instructions can cut down on the spread of germs. Posters detailing the proper way to sneeze and cough can cut down on germs in the workplace as well. Many adults fail to do these tasks properly and visual reminders can go a long way toward reducing the unnecessary spread of illness.
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces regularly. For office workers, this means wiping down keyboards, countertops, desktops, doorknobs, and any other surface they touch regularly with disinfectant wipes. For truck drivers, they should wipe steering wheels, gears, door handles, and any other surface they or other drivers may touch.
Fleet managers will need to be ready to respond to an outbreak. They should focus on developing plans that incorporate flexibility and address how work will continue if a significant portion of the workforce has to remain at home. Fleets also need to prepare for the possibility of significant business interruptions should their drivers fall ill. Interstate Motor Carriers understands the challenges fleets are facing and we can help. Contact us to learn more about protecting your fleet.