According to the WHO (World Health Organization), the coronavirus can spread from one infected person to another through small droplets from mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. The droplets can land on surfaces, objects, or the people around. The virus in droplets stays in air or surface for a few hours and if someone touches these objects or surfaces and then touches his or her nose, mouth or eyes, he/she will likely get infected. If a COVID-19 person coughs or sneezes and someone nearby breathes in the droplets that person will also get infected.
How COVID-19 can spread in vehicles?
Long-haul drivers hired by transport services companies are majorly at risk of COVID-19 because they constantly encounter potential sources of exposure such as truck stop attendants, petrol pump workers, warehouse staff, dock workers, and other truck drivers. They spend long hours in trucks, they need to pay attention to significant hygiene measures like washing hands for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based sanitizers and keeping the truck properly ventilated.
They need to follow some important safety measures to eliminate the risk of COVID-19. Check below-
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended health care staff to wear PPE to protect themselves from the deadly virus. Truck drivers too can wear it while interacting with people during pick-ups and drop-offs. Using the hand gloves, wearing face mask and sunglasses when coming into contact with individuals can minimize the exposure to viruses, especially if someone nearby you coughing or sneezing.
At the Petrol Pumps
If you are a long-haul driver, you’ll have to fill up the fuel sooner or later. You need to be extra careful about hygiene at petrol pumps. Try to maintain a distance of at least 2 meters with the staff at these stations. If possible, prefer a self-service filling station. After filling up your vehicle, wash your hands or at least sanitize them using alcohol-based sanitizer immediately.
Payment (Cash or Credit)
Cash is unclean, and when a contagious virus going around, you should avoid using it. Make the payments using cards. Many transportation services providers train their drivers to make payments using contactless ways such as SamsungPay, ApplePay, GooglePay or many others. This can help you to avoid contact with hard surfaces where the COVID-19 virus can stay up to 3 hours or more, if not properly disinfected.
When you are driving for many days, you must have good sleep. And for this, if you decide to rent a hotel room, don’t trust the staff for cleanliness. Use best hygiene practices like hand washing or sanitizing after touching anything in the room. You should use blankets, sheets, and even a pillowcase of yours. This is just to ensure that you are sleeping with things which you only have used. “Better safe than sorry” this saying definitely suits here. If you are sleeping inside the truck, do not share bedding with your co-workers in the truck.
You can’t stay hungry for longer, even when you are scared of getting the virus on stepping out from your vehicle. When you are driving on highways, find some good Dhabas or restaurants especially from the hygiene viewpoint. You can try avoiding contact with others by taking your food and eating it inside your vehicle. Moreover, if you go to a store to buy some food items/ beverages, you can limit your contact with others by buying these items in bulk.
The public toilet can be the biggest source of COVID-19 spread. When nature calls, bring your own toilet paper as a safety net. And now you’ve heard it countless times but, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use a sanitizer once you are done. When opening the doors, again use the sanitizer on your hands. If the door pushes inward, you can pull it with your elbow or use a piece of clothing or napkin.
Some drivers who are working with companies that are offering transport services go long distance and the thing which cannot be helped is need for the shower. So, when you have to take a shower in public bathrooms, you need to bring a pair of shower shoes or sleepers. It won’t only to protect you from COVID-19, but from many other bacteria that stay on public shower floors. Keep a plastic bag with you to place used shower shoes. After doing so, don’t forget to wash your face, hands, arms and elbows. Don’t use hair dryers as well as hand dryers because it can blow around invisible matter on the surface that can then be breathed in. Just stick with towel drying and that too with your own towel. As a precaution, bring your own soap and shampoo.
Masks & Gloves
During the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (2020) have promoted the use of face masks and gloves in public places. If you don’t have a face mask, there are alternatives such as scarves, handkerchief and bandanas. It is advised to wear disposable gloves at public places but this can spread the infection in many cases. Transportation services
companies should encourage their drivers to use face masks and gloves and show them some videos to help them to understand how it can help to reduce the risk of COVID. Disposable gloves need to be disposed of properly after the use, otherwise, it can spread germs to everything else that you touch. Thus, the better way to keep safe is to protect your face with a mask, wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
A healthy work environment
The transport services companies should develop policies and implement the technologies that allow and encourage contactless deliveries. There should be no-signature delivery to limit contact and elude the sharing of items such as pens. Electronic signature pads should also be avoided between drivers and persons at the delivery location. It will help to protect themselves from the contagious virus.
Signs and Symptoms
Some individuals when infected with the COVID-19 virus, don’t show any symptoms. However, many others do. It is crucial to appoint a dedicated medical professional on the working sites to assess the drivers for COVID 19, so when they need medical assistance, it will be provided to them.
CDS refers to the following as common symptoms for COVID-19-
- Cough & Cold
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms can appear from 2-14 days after exposure. If the driver suspects himself to be contracted coronavirus, he should contact the doctor. Many individuals need no hospitalization, but they need to be isolated for 2- weeks. Transportation companies
should help the drivers to seek assistance from the doctor on the phone. The doctor will determine if he needs to be tested or stay at home isolated and instruct you where to go for testing.
However, there is not sufficient data yet to prove the effectiveness of medicines to treat COVID-19 virus, make sure you consult with your healthcare professional on the issue. Tell your doctor of any other medications that you might be consuming, even vitamins, iron or calcium supplements. To get relief from pains, there are other helpful anti-inflammatory medicines that are effective. Please remember, if you begin to develop the signs of persistent fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, sneezing and dry cough, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to do our best to keep workers, consumers and the public safe and healthy. By taking some necessary safety measures, we can reduce the risk of spreading the Coronavirus. We know that every workplace is unique, so it becomes necessary that every workplace assesses operations carried out by their workers to ensure they take action to guard them against hazards produced due to the exposure to COVID-19.
Practicing social distancing (staying 6 feet away from others), reducing contact with droplets, keeping surfaces and objects clean, and avoiding contact with infected people – are all critically important measures. Transportation services providers need to train their drivers on possible COVID-19 transmission points in the workplace, roads or vehicles and what steps are being taken to protect them, and how they can save themselves, including frequent sanitizing, hand washing, wearing a face mask, gloves and not touching their face.