June 30, 2020
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, we all need to do our part to keep workers, customers and the public safe and healthy.
Compiled below is a set of resources, tips and best practices to help carriers and drivers prevent the spread of COVID -19 and work together during Alberta’s relaunch.
Employers and workers in Alberta have certain duties and rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations. Employers should also review and follow any applicable directives and guidance coming from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health or Alberta Labour.
We know the transportation industry and its workplaces are unique, specifically for professional drivers and their truck cabs. This emphasizes and reiterates the importance of assessing workplace functions, duties and hazard prevention programs to ensure adequate actions are taken to protect against hazards or exposure to COVID-19.
Practicing physical distancing (staying two metres away from others), keeping hands, surfaces and objects clean, and preventing contact with potentially infected people – are all critically important measures. Other information on how you can protect yourself is available at https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
The AMTA has provided some recommendations below for your consideration. Please keep in mind introducing any new protective measures should be done as part of a full review of other workplace hazards – not just COVID-19. Employers should consult with Joint Health and Safety Committees/Health and Safety Representatives on measures to protect workers in the workplace. Some workplaces may already have some existing controls in place that may help reduce the risk of exposure to workers, so regular ‘check-ins’ on the effectiveness of controls is highly recommended.
Additional resources that may be of assistance include the Government of Canada’s risk-informed decision making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trucking HR Canada – COVID-19 Resource Guide for Trucking and Logistics Employers.
RECOGNIZE HAZARDS AND ASSESS RISKS
For drivers, we recognize they will have contact with people, including suppliers, customers, service providers and coworkers, as well as contact with surfaces including vehicles and sites visited. The nature of the work drivers do requires contact with co-workers and customers (i.e. within two metres). These interactions, as well as the need to touch work surfaces and equipment could increase the likelihood one could come in contact with the virus.
People who are sick or show signs of illness (e.g. fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, tiredness, shortness of breath) should self-isolate. Consult public health information to learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Recognize and report these hazards and use appropriate controls. Ensure that you or your co-workers stay home if you or they have symptoms.
All existing safety, sanitation and infection control standards established by licensing agencies and public health authorities are still in effect and enforced. Already existing controls may help to reduce the risk of exposure for workers (e.g. following practices required by the local/provincial health unit). To protect yourself from some of the risk of exposure to COVID-19, consider the following options:
Keep Informed and Communicate
–Follow all municipal and local public health warnings, directions and recommendations related to COVID-19.
-Consider regular times to check in with public health updates and retrain/revise practices as needed.
-Employers need to train workers on possible COVID-19 transmission points in the workplace, what steps are being taken? To protect them, and share how they can protect themselves, including frequent hand washing, sanitizing items and surfaces more frequently, and not touching their face.
– Ensure that measures you decide on are well communicated.
ELIMINATE OR DECREASE RISK TO EXPOSURE
–Postpone non-essential trips and tasks to minimize contact with others
-Implement all measures to ensure physical distance and separation between people. Keep the recommended physical distance (two metres) between yourself and others where you can. Limit or eliminate passengers wherever possible. Use a sneeze guard or your window with open/close capability between interactions. If it is necessary to transport passengers, consider installing a transparent physical barrier(s) that does not impede field of vision between driver and any passengers.
-Proper hand washing is key. Workers should be trained in the proper hand washing technique and avoid touching their face. Extra hand washing is a good idea for everyone – and when that’s not possible, a hand sanitizer with minimum alcohol content of 60 per cent should be used frequently. Consider sanitizer use after customer or supplier interaction.
-Encourage workers and visitors to wash their hands before entering the workplace, after contact with others, or with surfaces others have touched. Be sure to include hand washing before breaks, at shift changes, after making or receiving deliveries etc. Be sure to keep an adequate supply of soap, paper towels, etc.
Disinfection and Sanitizing
-Increase the cleaning frequency of your work area – on everything from seats to commonly touched surfaces like steering wheels, gear shifts, radio controls and keys. Be sure to follow safe practices when using a cleaning agent and use an appropriate cleaner for the job.
Other Control Measures
– Where appropriate, safely work/meet in outdoor spaces.
– Where appropriate, safely ventilate spaces by opening doors, etc.
In addition to the above recommendations, your workplace should consider protective equipment as part of a complete hazard assessment. Equipment is only effective if people understand its limitations and wear it correctly. Workers need to be trained in the fit, use, storage, cleaning, maintenance and limitations of the protective equipment that they wear. Workers must use protective equipment as required by their employer. If physical distance and separation cannot be maintained, workers should have protective equipment consisting of surgical/procedure mask and eye protection (goggles or face shield).
In-Cab Training: General Advice to Protect Commercial Vehicle Drivers and In-Cab Instructor
Before Entering the Cab
Commercial vehicle drivers or in-cab trainers should monitor their health prior to training. If drivers or trainers are experiencing symptoms, even if they are a mild cough and fever, they must stay home. Prior to training:
-If you are doing in-cab training or driving with someone else, designate ONLY one person to enter and disinfect the truck, while others wait outside at a distance.
-Make sure vehicle interiors are clean and hygienic by wiping surfaces with disinfectant.
-The following equipment should be available for cleaning:
- Personal protective equipment (as required by the operator’s health and safety protocol);
- Disposable cloths;
- Paper towels and absorbent materials;
- Waste disposal bags, labels and tape;
- Cleaning agents; and disinfectants
- Cleaning is a critical first step for disinfecting affected surfaces. In general, when cleaning vehicle interiors:
- Put on disposable, water-proof gloves. Avoid hand contact with the face, especially the nose and eyes. Direct contact with contaminated areas should be avoided.
- For routine cleaning and disinfection, and for areas potentially contaminated with COVID-19, a hard-surface disinfectant authorized by Health Canada is recommended. For a list of hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19), please see Health Canada’s website.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended dilution rates, contact times and conditions specific to the surface.
- Avoid bleach except on simple plastics.
- Don’t use solvents.
- Wipe off what you wipe on; don’t leave chemicals to linger.
- High touch surfaces in trucks that should be regularly cleaned include but are not limited to:
- Keys or FOBs;
- Starter button on vehicles with FOBs;
- Inside and outside door handles; Inside door grab handles, pads and armrests;
- Steering wheel;
- Shift lever and console;
- Power window and power door lock switches;
- Radio and climate control buttons; Turn signal and wiper stalks;
- Seat and Seat adjuster;
- Touch screen
- Any other parts that are commonly used and that may have been touched (glove compartment, hood, trunk, van panel door handles, pick-up tailgate handle, sleeping areas, for example).
- Dispose of soiled cleaning clothes, disinfection cloths, disposable gloves, and any other items in contact with respiratory tract secretions in a waste disposal bag.
- After cleaning and disposal, wash hands or hand sanitize prior to re-entering the commercial vehicle.
In-Cab Training or Driver Sharing
- Prior to entering the commercial vehicle, drivers and instructors should ensure they have done the following:
- Disinfected or washed hands
- Wear a face mask or shield; and
- Have on disposable gloves
- Trainers and drivers should always enter he vehicle separately and maintain a social distance of two metres.
- Commercial vehicle drivers or trainers should wash their hands frequently under warm, running water with soap for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching their faces with unwashed hands. This is especially important after coming in contact with other people or surfaces that may carry the virus. When soap and water is not available, a 60 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitizer is recommended.
- Commercial vehicle drivers should take precautions such as covering their hands (wearing gloves) when pumping gas, touching the service station door handles, or handling any automotive products that may be required when performing vehicle maintenance, such as filling windshield washer fluid and adding motor oil, if this is possible. If it is not possible, drivers or trainers should apply hand sanitizer after each motion.
- As much as possible, physical distancing practices should be observed, staying at least two meters (or six feet) away from other people. Commercial vehicle drivers should keep appropriate distances between themselves and others and avoid direct physical contact (including handshaking). This includes contact with customers, receiving personnel and those at rest stops.
- Face-to-face meetings should be kept to a minimum and respect physical distancing requirements. To the extent possible, face-to-face meetings should be replaced with conference calls or video conferencing. Interactions with clients should also be kept as short as possible keeping in mind physical distancing requirements.
At the End of the Trip
- Trainers and drivers should exit the vehicle at different times and or maintain a social distance.
- Repeat a thorough cleaning of high-touch surfaces with appropriate disinfectants as described above. Again, allow only one person to do so.
- If anyone starts to experience symptoms after completing a trip, they should stay home, self-isolate, and advise their employer so that additional steps can be taken to protect coworkers and others using the truck.
- While commercial vehicle drivers are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirements for business purposes, when off-duty, they should abide by recommendations of local and national public health authorities, including recommendations relating to physical distancing.
COVID-19 has presented all of us with challenges we have never seen before. It’s important to consider that any of the adjustments we are making today, may need further adjustment tomorrow. It is recommended that you take a look at your preventative measures on an ongoing basis, and adjust them if they are not working well enough or causing other issues with your work. For example, if you decided to use goggles, but they are impeding your vision, or are making other tasks unnecessarily difficult, you may want to try a face shield instead. Or, if you decided you needed a certain kind of disinfectant that is no longer available, identifying alternative disinfecting products or solutions or switching to good soap and water practices may be reasonable substitutes.
Bottom line? Plan to make regular check-ins and adjustments part of your COVID-19 infection prevention plans.
*For anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please start by visiting the Alberta Ministry of Health website and taking a self-assessment here: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
Please do not visit an assessment center or medical clinic unless you have been referred by a health care professional. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.