A step-by-step guide to becoming COVID safe in the transport and logistics industries
COVID-19 poses a very serious risk to Australian transport businesses. Even if your business is in an area which is happily COVID free right now, there’s a real risk of it getting in. That’s why we’ve created a step-by-step guide to running a COVID safe business.
And yet, the transport and logistics industries are busier than ever. It’s vital we all do our part to keep people safe and keep things running.
Let’s dive in.
Ensuring your business is truly COVID safe can feel overwhelming. There’s so much to consider and a lot at stake. But like any large task, It’s helpful to break it down into smaller steps. These will be easier for you and your team to put into action and feel less daunting too.
We’ll go through everything in detail next, but as an overview, there are four main areas that need your attention.
- Meet all check in requirements.
- Ensure appropriate physical distancing within your premises.
- Standardise cleaning and hygiene practices.
- Communicate all changes and important information to your staff & customers (like when they need to get tested, new leave entitlements, or any screening processes).
Now let’s dig into the details of exactly what you can do to make your business COVID safe. We’ll start at the entry into your premises.
Check-in and record keeping
Whether your premises are a small office or a large distribution centre, all visitors (staff, contractors and public) must check-in.
Requirements differ from state to state but the general principle remains the same: keep reliable records.
For example in NSW from 12 July 2021, everyone must check-in according to the strict requirements of ServiceNSW.
- People can check-in using a ServiceNSW QR code.
- If they can’t check-in using their phone, another person is allowed to check-in for them, using their own phone.
- You can also use a ServiceNSW form to manually collect the required check-in details.
Regardless of the exact requirements in your state or territory, it’s really important to keep detailed records in case your business is exposed to COVID-19. Having these details available immediately will mean that contact tracing is simple and any spread is easier to contain.
This includes keeping records of any breaks or rest stops and who is in close contact during that time.
Keep a log with the date and time of every stop. Make sure your log includes the details of all close contacts (name and mobile number). Keep a copy of records for at least 28 days.
While this can feel a bit bamboozling, using QR codes makes it simple.
Set up a QR code system
Consider setting up an electronic system using QR codes, so that your staff and visitors can check in and out where required. This is by far the simplest and most accurate way to go about it.
And don’t forget to check that everyone actually provides the required contact information. This might mean checking phones for the green tick (keeping 1.5m physical distance between people at all times). Your QR codes should be clearly visible and accessible.
Of course, make sure you cooperate with health authorities if you’re contacted about a positive case. An outbreak doesn’t only affect public health and safety. It also affects the longevity of your business and puts your staff at serious risk.
Once inside, you need to make sure people remain 1.5m apart where possible. This will look different depending on whether you’re in transport and logistics or warehousing.
Let’s start with transport and logistics. Here’s what you need to do.
- Minimise unnecessary contact between workers.
- Monitor and manage the number of workers in all areas where possible. (And make sure you abide by any rules about how many people are allowed per square metre.)
- Freight operators: don’t carry passengers unless they’re alternate drivers, returning crew, or staff.
- Implement contactless pick-up and delivery wherever possible.
- Where you can, use phone or video platforms for essential meetings.
- Encourage your drivers to stay 1.5 metres away from other workers at pick-up or delivery sites where practical.
- Encourage staff not to share cigarettes, lighters or vapes.
- Develop strategies to manage gatherings that may occur immediately outside the premises.
- Encourage your drivers to avoid large venues where possible, including pubs and clubs.
- Develop a Travel Action Plan and provide information about being COVID safe when travelling to your workplace.
- Consider what work can be done offsite, such as admin work from home.
Hygiene and Cleaning
Now that you’ve sorted out how to keep your people apart as much as possible, you also need to make sure the things that everybody touches are clean.
Here’s what you can do to ensure that happens.
- Develop good hand hygiene procedures. Make sure hand sanitiser is available to your drivers and crew anywhere they will be working.
- Increase natural ventilation indoors where you can by simply opening windows and doors. Where possible, you should also try to increase mechanical ventilation by optimising air conditioning settings. This may mean avoiding recirculated air and maximising the intake of outside air.
- Ensure extra cleaning is done at the end of each shift. Use a detergent/disinfectant solution to clean down any hard surfaces such as: seats, door handles and window controls, seat belts and buckles. When cleaning, make sure you:
- wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly before and after with soap and water
- use disinfectant solutions mixed at the proper strength and follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Avoid using shared drug and alcohol testing such as wall mounted breathalysers.
- Place easy-to-see signs about hand hygiene and physical distancing around the workplace to remind staff.
- Where reasonable, find ways to avoid sharing items (like pens, pencils, tools or workstations). If things must be shared, clean them between uses.
Wellbeing of staff and customers
Lastly we come to the most important consideration: your people. It doesn’t really matter what you do if people can’t or don’t know how to do the right thing.
You must communicate clearly, so they know what’s required day to day, as well as what to do in the event of sickness or an exposure to COVID.
It seems obvious to say it but we’re going to anyway. Tell your team to stay home if they’re unwell. If they arrive obviously sick, encourage them to get a COVID-19 test and send them home. You should undertake daily screening of symptoms for all staff, and implement a protocol for when a team member becomes unwell at work.
Give your team basic training on COVID-19. Explain what symptoms to look out for, when to get tested, and go through all of the new physical distancing and cleaning requirements.
An important driver of sickness in the workplace is the financial need to work. Make your team aware of their leave entitlements if they do get sick (or have to isolate), and any government support available like test and isolate payments.
Finally, encourage your staff to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
What if the business is linked to a COVID-19 case?
Don’t panic. By developing and implementing clear procedures around physical distancing, cleaning, and check-ins, you will have kept your team and your business as safe as you possibly can.
You may initially be notified by public health authorities, an employee, or a contractor. Your local Public Health Unit will then advise on the type of contact tracing needed and tell you what infection control measures you need to take.
You’ll need to advise staff, visitors, contractors and customers of the situation. You’ll also need to undertake appropriate cleaning.
Over to you
Hopefully this has clarified things for you. It’s reassuring to know you can keep your staff safe and reduce the risk of your business being impacted.
This article has mostly covered what to do onsite or inside your offices. We wrote a separate guide to keeping COVID safe on the road with contactless delivery. And in some good news? Using an automated transport management system like TransVirtual makes keeping proper records and going contactless really simple.