Drivers spend a lot of time in their cabs and away from the public. However, there are stops to make and required interactions that can put you at risk for contracting COVID-19. Here are a few tips to help reduce your risk of getting sick without slowing you down (too much).
1. Mask up whenever you’re around people
The CDC recommends cloth face coverings any time you’re around large groups of people, especially when social distancing is impractical. For drivers, this includes fuel, food, and restroom stops, and when you’re waiting indoors with others. And make sure you have several masks on hand. You’ll want to switch out disposable masks or wash your reusables after each use. And remember, never share your masks with others.
2. Wash your hands frequently
Proper handwashing is critical for infection control. Don’t worry about having antibacterial soap–any regular hand soap will do–and the water doesn’t have to be hot. Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly, including the fronts, backs, between your fingers, and under your fingernails, for a full 20 seconds before rinsing with clean, running water. Times to wash your hands include:
- Before entering your cab any time you’ve gotten out along the road
- Before preparing or eating food
- After handling your mask
- After fueling your truck
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing (try to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow)
- After using the restroom
Be sure to keep hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol on hand for when you don’t have access to soap and water for handwashing. Thoroughly coat your hands with sanitizer, including the front, back, between fingers, and under fingernails, and allow the sanitizer to dry completely before touching anything.
3. Disinfect your cab often and thoroughly
Long-haul truckers sometimes spend days at a time living out of their cabs. Keeping yours clean is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Be sure to use an EPA-approved cleaner that’s known to kill COVID-19, a diluted household bleach solution, or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and hit all the surfaces you touch regularly, including:
- Driver’s side door handle (and passenger side, if used)
- Steering wheel
- Seat belt and buckle
- Arm and head rests
- Seat cover
- Turn signal
- Wiper controls
- Air ducts and temperature control knobs
- Sleeper berth surfaces, including light switches, mattress tray, temperature controls, and other flat surfaces
- And don’t forget to disinfect your cell phone regularly!
You should plan on disinfecting your truck each morning or evening, whichever works best for you, and again if anyone other than you enters your cab.
4. Plan ahead
The COVID-19 response changes regularly and differs from state to state. Be sure you know the current expectations and regulations for each state you’re entering. Also, many truck stops and plazas are offering COVID-19 emergency relief. Ask your carrier company where such stops exist along your route and be sure to use them if you run out of cleaning supplies or need medical attention.
5. Know when to stay home
Keeping our communities safe from COVID-19 is everybody’s responsibility. If you’re feeling ill or you have been exposed, it’s critical that you notify your supervisor immediately, and that you stay home and follow CDC best practices! If you are well, but have a family member who is sick, you should also notify your supervisor and ask for guidance. Your employer should also have a pre-determined plan for drivers who fall ill while on the road. Be sure you know what steps to take and that you follow that plan if you get sick.
We at F|Staff sincerely hope that you, your family, and all our valued drivers and carrier partners stay COVID-19-free. With a bit of diligence and a few extra steps in your day, you can help protect yourself, your family, and the whole community.
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