The coronavirus is a respiratory condition that is caused by a virus known as SARS-CoV-2. Some of its common symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, muscle pains, body malaise, chills, fever, loss of smell or taste, and sore throat, among others. What we know about how the virus spreads is currently developing as experts learn more about it. Generally, the coronavirus is thought to be contracted mainly via person-to-person – when people are unnecessarily close to each other, which is less than 6 feet, and via respiratory droplets from an infected individual that sneezes, talks, or coughs.
This article is focused on the world’s long-haul truck drivers who want to know how they can protect themselves and help prevent or stop the spread. If you are one, you probably spend a lot of hours alone in your truck. But there are also times when your risk of getting infected with coronavirus is increased. Possible sources of infection are when you are in close contact with store workers, truck stop helpers, dock assistants, other truck drivers, or other individuals who have the virus. You are also at risk of exposure when you frequently touch your mouth, eyes, or nose after touching surfaces that may be infected.
What can you do? Here are some guidelines that you can follow.
- Follow suggested precautionary measures from the Center for Disease Control and inform your manager if you are okay but have a family member infected with COVID-19. You will most likely be allowed to take a leave but recommended to stay in another home or advise your family member to be quarantined in a facility.
- Inform your manager if you are having symptoms. Stay at home, eat healthily, and get enough sleep.
- Create a plan with your manager, along with your family, about what steps to take if you become unwell while you’re on the road. Discuss things like where to ask for medical consult and treatment.
- If you are sick, you must stay at home and not go back to work until you have met the criteria to stop home quarantine and if you have already consulted with a healthcare provider.
- Don’t spend too much time out of your truck cab when you’re stopping for fuel or loading and unloading.
- Do not talk to the dock supervisors or other drivers if you need to inquire about something. Use your radio or phone as much as possible.
- Bring food and water with you on the road so you can limit your truck stops.
- Do not shake hands as much as possible.
- Always keep your truck clean and well ventilated.
The CDC also advises all drivers to wear face or cloth masks when they are in public places, particularly when social distancing is not easy to maintain. Cloth masks can be used by individuals that are not aware if they have COVID-19 or not, as this can prevent them from transmitting the virus to others. You must clean the interior of your truck meticulously, especially if your daily tasks involve having another person going in and out of it. Use cleaning agents that meet the standards of the EPA against SARs-CoV-2. The most basic step that helps is washing your hands as often as you can. This is a vital transmission control measure that must not be forgotten. Clean hands before getting in and leaving your truck, especially during deliveries, rest breaks, loading and unloading of cargo, and fueling.
Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put safety measures in place to be strictly followed. This includes advising truck drivers to get adequate sleep (about 8 to 9 hours) before driving and to have a cup of coffee or grab a 15-minute power nap if you feel tired or fatigued while you are on the road. During team drives or ride-along, you and your companions must wear cloth or surgical masks all the time while you are all inside the truck to prevent possible transmission. Do not share beddings in the berth.