As the global COVID-19 pandemic endures, the trucking industry is feeling the impact. Fleet owners have dealt with stay-at-home orders, an increase in last-mile delivery demand, supply shortages, closed ports, changing regulations, and more. Drivers have faced long, exhausting routes in support of pandemic response, canceled shifts and increased stress and fatigue as they face the unknown.
The changes are happening so rapidly and there is so much information that everyone feels overwhelmed at least part of the time. We’ve taken a moment to offer a quick update on some of the most critical aspects of COVID response impacting the industry this month.
FMCSA Emergency Declaration for COVID-19 Extended Until September 14th
In its original response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FMCSA changed the rules around driver hours of service for drivers who are working in direct support of the pandemic response. As of August 12th, 2020, they extended that order until September 14th and expanded its scope.
The latest version of the emergency declaration still provides regulatory relief only to commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance related to COVID-19. The changes in hours of service are limited to the transportation of:
- Livestock and livestock feed;
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19;
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and
- Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
It’s still important to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption posted to the FMCSA’s website.
Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave Relief Available for COVID-19
The number one way to stop the spread is for people to stay home when sick. Those who work in essential fields, including trucking, often go to work when they’re a little under the weather. While that work ethic is commendable, our government has provided provisions and relief so that small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) can offer paid sick or family leave for workers affected by COVID-19.
Under the Families First Conronavirus Relief Act, businesses with more than 50, but fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for relief when offering paid leave to employees who are sick with COVID-19, are caring for an afflicted family member, or who have been placed under quarantine as a result of COVID-19 exposure. This relief allows infected or affected individuals to stay home and stop the spread. In the trucking industry, drivers who call off ultimately impact delivery schedules, but in the case of this global pandemic, we all need to do our part to keep each other healthy.
An Increased Focus on Driver Health and Wellness
As essential workers tasked with keeping goods moving across the country, drivers are expected to show up and work through the pandemic. Though they have shown up for the nation in an incredible fashion, and carriers have taken excellent precautions to keep drivers safe, it doesn’t reduce the risks that drivers face every day.
Motor carriers and fleet owners are now focusing on keeping their drivers from contracting COVID-19. They’re starting with taking the pandemic seriously. By providing protective gear, including masks and gloves, and engaging in ongoing education and outreach campaigns to combat misinformation, carriers are helping their drivers make it to and from their destinations without getting sick. They’re also drafting detailed plans for the unfortunate occurrences of a driver or worker infection, and they’re partnering with telemedicine providers and roadside facilities to make sure drivers have the resources they need while they’re on the road.
COVID-19 Response Requires Staffing Agility
For carriers and drivers alike, COVID-19 has created an atmosphere of lingering uncertainty. For drivers, work is heavily dependent upon the supply chain. With fluctuations in global shipping, local production, and warehousing inventories, carriers and drivers may be faced with sudden schedule changes or outright cancellations. Carriers face the added stress of potential driver illnesses or quarantine due to COVID-19.
Both fleet owners and drivers need a flexible solution like F|Staff to make sure they can keep earning through the pandemic. And drivers can maximize their available hours of service by taking jobs that fit their needs and qualifications. With F|Staff, carriers can reduce costs on full-time staff while keeping their trucks moving in real-time with demand fluctuations.
Be Ready for Anything
F|Staff simplifies the driver staffing challenges of COVID-19 with a single app that connects drivers and jobs in real-time. With F|Staff, both carriers and drivers can be ready for whatever comes next.