Protecting yourself from COVID-19

A guide for drivers and other workers in freight, logistics and transport industries

For many workers around Australia, working from home has become the new normal. But, for those whose jobs entail the physical movement of goods, working from home is simply not possible. While it’s been recognised that these people are essential for the continued functioning of our country and economy,  it hasn’t always been clear how these vital workers can perform their work tasks without compromising their health and safety. To address this, we’ve compiled this guide for drivers and other workers in freight, logistics and transport industries on protecting yourself from COVID-19, as much as possible. We hope it helps.

Understanding how the virus spreads

The first step to protecting yourself against coronavirus is to understand the risk factors and how it is transmitted. Here’s what we know:

The coronavirus is most likely to be spread from person to person through:

  • direct contact with an infectious person
  • contact with the droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes
  • touching your mouth or face after contact with a surface or object that’s been contaminated from an infected person.

Social distancing (see below) is the main measure you can take to address points one and two on that list, so let’s look at point three: touching your mouth or face after contact with a surface or object that’s been contaminated from an infected person.

As the handling of documents, goods, boxes, cartons or other packages is an unavoidable part of a freight worker’s role, these workers must take extra precautions to prevent virus transmission.

While the World Health Organisation says that freight workers are not at particular risk because coronavirus doesn’t live long on surfaces like cardboard, paper or plastic, it can live on these surfaces, even if the risk of contracting it in this way is very, very small. Coronavirus has been found to live for the following durations on different surfaces:

  • In the air: up to 3 hours
  • On hard, shiny surfaces (like phones or door handles): up to 72 hours
  • On cardboard and other porous surfaces: up to 24 hours.

So, when handling materials or documents what precautions can freight workers take?

Wash your hands

If you haven’t seen all the infographics demonstrating correct handwashing that are flooding the news at the moment, you can check one out here. Basically, wash your hands much more often, for far longer than you usually would, far more thoroughly, and with far more attention.

Don’t touch your face during your work day

The mucous membranes that lead to your airways are of particular importance here, as they are an efficient way for the virus to travel. Try not to touch your nose (or pick it!), rub your eyes, or touch your lips and mouth when you’re working. Always wash your hands before and after eating or smoking, and after going to the toilet. If you can access hand sanitiser, it’s a good idea to use it frequently and remember to rub it into your hands until it has dried.

Use appropriate PPE

Where available, you may want to consider the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gloves or face masks. Gloves may be especially useful if you are handling a scanner or PoD (Proof of Delivery) devices that require customers to input a signature via a touchscreen, keypad or electronic pen. It’s also advisable to clean these devices frequently to disinfect them. If vehicles and other equipment are also shared, these should be thoroughly disinfected between users.

Social distancing

Social or physical distancing rules are in place across the country now, and these are especially pertinent for workers in the freight/transport industry who may be coming into the proximity of many people throughout their day. It’s important for everyone to stay at least 1.5 metres apart, even while delivering goods. Social distancing rules also apply in other environments that may be encountered throughout a work day, such as shops, service stations, offices, warehouses, distribution centres and other commercial enterprises or private buildings. 

Monitor your own health

It’s more important than ever for all people to be accountable and careful when it comes to their own health. This means staying home if you are unwell, being careful to cover your coughs, sneeze into your elbow, dispose of used tissues immediately and observe social distancing and other government or workplace-issued mandates designed to protect all workers. Report any issues with your own health status (including symptoms of COVID-19)  to your management or HR department, and also report any concerns related to your health and safety while you’re at work. 

For more information about work health and safety and coronavirus, including what to do if you feel unwell, please see the following resources:

Safe Work Australia

Health Direct

If you’re seeking advice on protecting workers against coronavirus or other WHS issues, please contact Recovery Partners on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789) or email enquiries@rrp.com.au.