What Long-Haul Truck Driver Employers Need to Know about COVID-19
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Here’s what we currently know:
- The main way the virus spreads is from person to person through respiratory droplets.
- You may also be able to get COVID-19 by shaking someone’s hand or touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
- COVID-19 may be spread by people who do not have symptoms.
COVID-19 can sometimes cause serious complications. People at an increased risk for severe illness include:
As a long-haul truck driver employer, your workers might be exposed to the virus when
- In close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with truck stop attendants, store workers, dock workers, other truck drivers, or others with COVID-19
- Touching their mouth, nose or eyes after
- Touching or handling frequently touched surfaces and equipment (such as door handles and loading dock surfaces) and then touching their face, mouth, nose, or eyes
How You Can Protect Your Staff and Others and Slow the Spread
You can protect workers by supporting them in maintaining both personal preventive behaviors (socially distancing, wearing cloth masks, washing hands) and environmental interventions. Evaluate your workplace to identify scenarios where workers cannot maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from each other and/or riders. Use appropriate combinations of controls following the hierarchy of controls to address these situations to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. A committee of both workers and management may be most effective at identifying all possible scenarios.
While protecting workers, it is important to note that control recommendations or interventions to reduce exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 must be compatible with any safety programs and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required for the job task. Approaches to consider may include the following:
Create a COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Plan
- Continue to follow federal, state, and local regulations for truck drivers in addition to the recommendations here.
- Identify an on-site workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 assessment and control.
- When developing plans, include all employees in the workplace, for example: truck drivers, dispatchers, maintenance, and supervisory staff.
- Notify all workers that any COVID-19 concerns should be directed to the identified coordinator.
- Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
- Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisals, and ensure employees are aware of these policies.
- If contractors are employed in the workplace, develop plans to communicate with the contracting company regarding modifications to work processes.
- Consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of employees on their scheduled workdays.
- Screening optionscould include having employees self-screen before arriving at work or taking employees’ temperatures and assessing potential symptoms prior to beginning work (see CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers).
- Make sure employees can maintain at least 6 feet of distance while waiting for screening, if done on-site.
- Make employee health screenings as private as possible and maintain the confidentiality of each individual’s medical status and history.
- Put in place specific policies to minimize face-to-face contact for drivers with increased risk for serious illness or assign work tasks that allow them to maintain a distance of six feet or more from other workers, customers, and visitors.
Take action if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
- Immediately separate employees who report with or develop symptoms at work from other people and arrange for private transport home. These employees should self-isolate and contact their health care provider immediately.
- Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection of the truck cab after anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the cab.
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should immediately notify their employer of their results.
- Sick employees should follow CDC recommended steps to self-isolate or seek care. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers.
- Screening options could include having employees self-screen before arriving at work or taking employees’ temperatures and assessing potential symptoms prior to beginning work (see CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers).
- A test-based strategy is not recommended to validate an employee’s illness, or to qualify an employee for sick leave or return to work.
Develop hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls to prevent infection among workers. You may be able to include a combination of controls noted below.
- Engineering Controls (Isolate people from the hazards)
Alter the workspace using engineering controls to prevent exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Confirm that truck cabs’ fresh air vents and blowers are working properly.
- Increasing ventilation is most important when there is more than one occupant in the vehicle.
- Administrative Controls (Change the way people work)
Provide training and other administrative policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- All workers should have a basic understanding of COVID-19, how the disease is thought to spread, what the symptoms of the disease are, and what measures can be taken to prevent or minimize the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Trainings should include the importance of social distancing (maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more when possible), wearing cloth masks appropriately, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, not sharing personal items or tools/equipment unless absolutely necessary, and not touching their face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Follow the CDC guidance for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Reintegrating exposed, asymptomatic workers back to work, while discussed in the guidance, should not be misinterpreted as the first or most appropriate option.
- Home isolation may still be the most preferred and viable option for exposed workers.
- Make a plan with your employees as to what to do if they become sick while on the road. Include where to stop, where and how to seek medical advice and treatment, and plans for freight delivery.
- Consider using a hotline for employees to voice concerns unanimously.
- Communicate regularly with local public health officials and use CDC resources to obtain information on outbreak locations, with a focus on common truck driver routes. Follow each state’s requirements for reducing exposure to COVID-19.
- Pre-qualify truck stops, rest areas, and hotels to ensure such facilities are open, supplied, and follow recommended COVID-19 safety practices, such as:
- cleanliness and disinfection (such as routine cleaning, available hand-sanitizing stations, and private showers);
- proper food handling and food service (such as replacing self-service with full service);
- contactless fuel payment.
- Require truck drivers to wear cloth masks as appropriate.
- Cloth masks are intended to protect other people—not the wearer. They are not considered to be personal protective equipment.
- Emphasize that care must be taken when putting on and taking off cloth masks to ensure that the worker or the cloth face covering does not become contaminated.
- Cloth masks should be routinely laundered.
- Cloth masks should not be worn if their use creates a new risk (for example, interferes with driving or vision or contributes to heat-related illness) that exceeds their COVID-19-related benefits of slowing the spread of the virus.
- Take additional precautions to address risks associated with ride-alongs or team driving (two drivers in the cab on a long-haul run) when they cannot be avoided. For example, wear a cloth mask when sharing the cab with someone outside of your household and 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
- Clean and Disinfect high-touch surfaces.
- Use products that are EPA-registeredexternal icon, diluted household bleach solutions, or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, appropriate for surface disinfection.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them using a detergent or soap and water before you disinfect them.
- Provide sanitizing disposable wipes and other cleaning materials and ask drivers to disinfect frequently touched surfaces (door handles, steering wheel, seat belt and buckle, arm and head rest, seat cover, turn signal, wiper controls, dashboard, air ducts, radio, temperature controls, etc.)
- Institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between drivers, other coworkers, and customers, such as:
- During driver training situations, use virtual training methods and in-vehicle monitoring systems where possible. Limit ride-alongs and in-person classroom-based training.
- Use devices that allow for drivers to conduct contactless deliveries.
- Do not share materials such as clip boards, pens, and touchscreens if possible.
- Disinfect shared clip boards, pens, and touchscreens after each delivery.
- Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, tissues, and small trash cans for truck cabs.
- Remind employees that people may be able to spread COVID-19 even if they do not show symptoms. Consider all close interactions (within 6 feet) with employees, dock workers, and others as a potential source of exposure.
- Post signs and reminders at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on social distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette. Signs should be easy to understand, and may include signs for non-English speakers, as needed.
- Communication and training should be easy to understand, in preferred language(s) spoken or read by the employees and include accurate and timely information.
- Emphasize use of images (infographics) that account for language differences.
- Training should be reinforced with signs (preferably infographics), placed in strategic locations. CDC has free, simple posters available to download and print, some of which are translated into different languages.
- Schedule driver routes to allow for adequate sleep and use fatigue management strategies.
- Consider using a hotline for employees to voice concerns anonymously.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is the last step in the hierarchy of controls because it is more difficult to use effectively than other measures. To be protective and not introduce an additional hazard, the use of PPE requires characterization of the environment, knowledge of the hazard, training, and consistent correct use. This is why special emphasis is given to administrative and engineering controls when addressing occupational hazards, including when applying guidance to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, use of PPE such as surgical masks or N-95 respirators is being prioritized for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
- Provide truck drivers with all PPE (including vests, safety glasses, hard hats) that they might need while on the road so that the driver does not need to borrow PPE from shippers.
How You Can Help Your Staff and Others Cope with Stress
Mental health is an important component of worker safety and health. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges in the ways many people work and interact with others, which may lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Information and resources about mental health, recognizing signs of stress, taking steps to build resilience and manage stress, and knowing where to go if you, your staff, or others need help are available here.
How to Get More Information
You, as the employer, are responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and informing employees of the hazards in your workplace. You can utilize these additional sources for more information on reducing the risk of exposures to COVID-19 at work:
- CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
- CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic: COVID-19
- CDC COVID-19
- OSHA COVID-19external icon
- OSHA Guidelines on Preparing Workplaces for COVIDpdf iconexternal icon
- CDCINFO: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) | TTY: 1-888-232-6348 | website: cdc.gov/info