The Government Issues New Guidance on Working Safely In Vehicles During COVID-19
18th May, 2020
What Can You Do To Ensure Your Business Is Operating Safely?
The new guidance which has been put into place effective from 11 May 2020 seeks to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the pandemic, in or from a vehicle, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those that they do not live with.
What do you need to do if you operate a business which involves individuals working from vehicles?
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the results with workers;
- Have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with the published guidance;
- Take all reasonable steps to help people work from home where possible;
- Take all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace where working from home is not possible; and
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, ensure that you have done everything practical to manage transmission risk.
What should you do once you have considered and implemented the relevant measures?
The next step for you, as an operator, is to talk to your customers/consignors. It is important to communicate with your customers/consignors to ensure that the measures you have put in place in response to the new guidelines will also work with them and the steps they are taking in line with the guidance they will have for their sector.
You must then also have a similar discussion with your consignees to ensure that the measures and policies you have put into place will also work with them and the steps they are taking in line with the guidance they will have for their sector.
It is particularly important to ensure that your drivers’ hygiene needs are met within the vehicle (i.e. a supply of soap, paper towels, hand sanitiser and wipes) and at both the loading and tipping locations (i.e. access to toilets/washing facilities and wherever possible catering facilities).
The main message to take from the new guidance is that everyone needs to work together to ensure that work carried out in or from vehicles can be carried out safely all whilst minimising the risk of spread of COVID-19.
If I can be of assistance to any haulage or PSV operator with reference to this guidance or any other issues, please feel free to contact me.
The full published guidance can be found here:
The key elements are summarised below.
Risk Assessment & Consultation
An appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment should be carried out in consultation with employees or unions.
The risk assessment is about identifying sensible measures to control risks in the workplace and should help you decide whether, as an employer or a self-employed person, you have done everything that you need to minimise the risk of spread.
Employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety at work. Employees should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of the workplace health and safety policies in partnership with you, as the employer.
You should ensure that the results of any risk assessment carried out are visible and communicated to employees as well as ensuring that actions taken as a result of the assessment do not disproportionately affect those with disabilities.
Who should go to work?
The Government still maintains the objective that everyone should work from home unless they cannot work from home. However, the Government recognise that the nature of the work in this environment will make it difficult for many employees to work remotely or work from home.
Employers should plan for the minimum number of employees needed on the premises and deployed in the field to operate safely and effectively.
Where ever possible employees should avoid using public transport to get to their place of work.
The main objective is to help people maintain 2m social distancing, including whilst arriving at, and departing from, work, whilst in work and when travelling between sites.
Where it is not possible to maintain a distance of 2m, which is accepted, may be difficult in this industry, both employers and employees must do everything that they reasonably can to reduce the risk.
The following are some examples of what should be considered by employers when implementing social distancing measures throughout the workplace and whilst out in vehicles:
Coming to work and leaving work
To minimise the risk of spread whilst employees are coming to and from work, employers should consider:
- Staggering arrival and departure times of employees at work to reduce crowding;
- Providing additional parking facilities where necessary for employees’ cars, motorbikes and cycles;
- Encourage the use of employee’s own vehicles for sole travel to and from work where possible
Moving around buildings, worksites and destinations
To maintain social distancing as far as possible while people travel through the workplace, employers should consider:
- Reducing the number of employees at base depots or distribution centres at a given time based on minimum operational safety requirements. Where possible:
- Scheduling times for the collection of goods
- Picking goods ahead of collection and loading onto vehicles without interacting with the driver
- Reducing job and location rotation
- Finding alternative solutions to two-person delivery such as delaying delivery of large items or use of mechanic handling equipment.
- Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation – for example by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.
Social distancing in vehicles
To maintain social distancing between individuals whilst in vehicles, employers are expected to consider:
- Devising mitigation measures where employees have no alternative but to work within 2m, including:
- Clear signage to outline social distancing measures in place
- Single person/contactless refuelling where possible
- Consider physical screening provided this does not compromise safety
- Using a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity.
- Ensure regular cleaning of vehicles
Carrying out deliveries or collections
To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the vehicle, employers are expected to consider:
- Using non-contact deliveries wherever possible
- Scheduling to limit exposure to large crowds and rush hours where appropriate
- Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points and procedures with signage and marking
- Where possible and safe having single employees load or unload vehicles.
Cleaning and Sanitising
In order to work safely during the pandemic, the workplace must be kept clean to prevent transmission of the virus and employers must be extra vigilant in this area. See pages 17-20 of the appended guidance for full information as to what you should be doing to keep your workplace clean.
The guidance states that where you already use PPE in the workplace to protect against non COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so. However, when managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial as COVID-19 needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.
The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises the use of PPE, for example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers.
There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face-covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.
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