The fast-moving coronavirus is impacting every industry in every state and country worldwide — and fleet management is no exception. All aspects of the trucking industry are taking a blow as supply chains are disrupted, events get canceled, schools close and stores cut back hours.
Businesses are sending employees home to work as coronavirus cases swiftly climb. But what about America’s 1.8 million truck drivers that can’t work from home or even practice social distancing? Truckers are among the country’s largest and most vulnerable groups when it comes to health concerns during a pandemic. Of truckers nationwide, about 350,000 to 400,000 are owner-operators — meaning they are truck owners and move loads on a freelance basis — and many don’t have health insurance or paid time off.
Truckers often travel across the country hauling just about all merchandise for businesses, grocery stores, retailers and individuals. Drivers are not only worried about catching the virus going into different facilities but are also concerned about truck stops where many take breaks to eat and shower.
As the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread nationwide and people rely more than ever on deliveries, what can fleet owners or managers do to help keep their drivers healthy and minimize their potential exposure to illness?
As a population, truck drivers are more likely than most to have an underlying health issue, according to a 2014 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. It found that long-haul truck drivers “face a constellation of interrelated risk factors for chronic disease.”
When it comes to the coronavirus, having underlying health issues can be a critical factor in developing complications. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified elements that elevate the chances someone will get sick from the virus:
Truck drivers are at a higher risk of developing health issues because they are more likely to have risk factors like smoking or obesity. One of the ways fleet managers and owners can help drivers stay healthy is by creating an action plan and distributing information about best practices.
Additional tips, symptom information, COVID-19 testing locations and more can be found on the CDC’s website.
Keeping everyone healthy and preventing the spread of the virus is the most critical aspect of this pandemic. But a parallel concern is safely keeping your fleet in motion — and ensuring the public is supplied with all necessary goods.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued its first nationwide hours of service emergency relief declaration, although the flow of goods nationwide could be restricted regardless. Putting together a contingency plan now is the best way to keep on trucking.