Road Transport Forum News
WELLBEING AND SAFETY ADVISORY FOR TRANSPORT OPERATORS
Road Transport Forum News
COVID-19 forces us to be especially mindful of the safety of vehicles, driving behaviour, and monitoring the wellbeing of staff. More accidents occur when we are under stress, so it is important to manage stress during the Level 4 lockdown period....
COVID-19 forces us to be especially mindful of the safety of vehicles, driving behaviour, and monitoring the wellbeing of staff. More accidents occur when we are under stress, so it is important to manage stress during the Level 4 lockdown period.
At this point, the following serves as awareness prompts so operators can maintain and develop safer practices. If additional resources are required, we can consider developing them.
RTF continues to talk to WorkSafe and NZTA and their feedback has been useful in the development of the following.
The most important aspect of managing this global pandemic event, is to maintain your most important assets – your people. That includes you and your families and those of your staff and theirs, whether they are working or not. Physically and mentally healthy drivers will sustain your business, our industry, and ultimately the country.
Please regularly check with your team about how they are coping. Ask open questions, not those that elicit a one-word answer. Understand their situation and check on it regularly. Ask them:
- How are you feeling? / How are things at home?
- Are you happy to be working? / How are you feeling about work?
- Are you suffering from fatigue or other stress-related ailments? (have you had your rest breaks?)
- What do you think of your route?
- Are there any interactions during work time that you are still thinking about?
- Are you clear what is required of you?
- Is there anything you need from me as your employer at this time?
- What do you think of the communications we've given you? (Safe procedure about returning home to your bubble, hand washing etc)
- Do you know which agencies are available to support you?
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Perhaps you could create a checklist for drivers with simple happy face or sad face answers? This could go with their daily walk around check sheet?
- Do you feel you have sufficient support?
- Are your whanau safe and happy? Or how is your external stress from work being managed?
- Are you happy and understand the communications/information you have been receiving?
How will you check these checklists and follow up with your workers? What will your response be if you find a worker under pressure and therefore, a potential safety risk?
It is also important to ensure that your drivers have adequate access to good food and toilet stops during their day. Please ensure their routes have toilet facilities open on them and give them this information. This can be sourced from the RTF website here. The toilet stop lists for the North and South Island are updated regularly.
We've spoken to drivers who say they are happy to be working, but due to social distancing they are having to semi-isolate at home. This can add stress to an already stressed environment and needs to be monitored.
Before starting off
For our industry to meet the nation's needs at this time of crisis, we need to ensure your workplace - your vehicle, is safe.
If in your judgement, the vehicle is unsafe, you must take it off the road.
A reminder. Certificate of Fitness (CoFs) can only be granted to essential services vehicle during the Alert Level 4 period. More information on this is available on the Ministry of Transport website.
Secondly, guidelines related to the process of getting a CoF are set by the in-service providers, in line with the Government's COVID-19 safety requirements.
Both VTNZ and VINZ have published these on their websites and we recommend operators and drivers follow these regardless of which provider they use. Above everything else, it is important for people to stay safe so the more precautions taken, the better.
This information and link is also available under the Transport Agency COVID-19 FAQs.
We expect a fuller update on CoFs and licensing during the lockdown and in the immediate period beyond, to be forthcoming next week.
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On the road
Police have reported an increase in speed on the road. Drivers must be reminded to keep to speed limits at all times and drive defensively and safely. There is anecdotal evidence that despite a 50% reduction in traffic, accidents have proportionally risen. This could be down to heightened anxiety and constant reminders about safety will be vital to staff, along with more regular check-ins on driver progress and wellbeing by dispatchers.
Contact your association or local AE for details on what local vehicle servicing could be open to receive essential vehicles during the lockdown.
It is clear that there are a huge number of people (including families with young children) out walking and cycling who would not normally do so. Given the low volumes of traffic on our roads, their attitude regarding motor vehicles is possibly relaxed. While the reduced number of vehicles might make vulnerable road users easier to spot and avoid, many drivers will be distracted by stress. Please encourage your drivers to observe the following three key Share the Road messages.
• Driving behind a cyclist? Leave plenty of space.
• Cyclists ride further out from the kerb and parked cars because it's safer.
• When you pass a cyclist, leave a buffer of space between you.
If you need resources or advice on Share the Road, please contact:
Share the Road Campaign Manager, Richard Barter
+6421 277 1213
Access to food and toilets on the road
There is employer responsibility at times of stress to check with drivers that they have access to the fundamentals of life – food, drink and toilet facilities. We are aware that access to these fundamentals is restricted during the Level 4 lockdown. RTF is keeping a list of facilities available in both the North and South Islands which is available on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage here.
There are well developed guidelines to be found attached to this document for essential workers, from our partners at the World Road Transport Organisation (IRU).
RTF has previously assembled guidelines for cab hygiene, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (last reviewed 3 December 2018). These are good guidelines and can be found here.
Access to PPE gear has been limited. It is important that the industry maintain the highest standards in this space. Please contact your association to inform them if you do not have an adequate supply. We are working on providing associations information on suppliers who have stock available.
Manufacturing New Zealand has a list of who in New Zealand is manufacturing what PPE equipment on their website here.
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Customers and health and safety
Understand customers may have altered or raised their standards across health and safety as a result of COVID-19. Ensure your drivers are aware of whatever new processes your customers have implemented.
Similarly, make sure your customers are aware of what steps you are taking to ensure driver safety against COVID-19, and what you will be expecting from customers. The RTF issued this Advisory on knowing your rights during the Level 4 lockdown and being identified as an essential service worker, including a template of a letter to make that identification which you can find here.
Perhaps consider that paperwork be limited at this point and request your customers to digitise as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread.
All associations have lists of skilled drivers ready for work. Please either add names to this list or seek to access it if you can foresee any shortage or the need to relieve your drivers at this time.
Associations will provide driver name and contact, vehicle types (if Owner Driver) and license classes. Operators will have to ensure they sight CVs and drivers are appropriate for employment.
COVID-19 seems to hit the older population hard, so please be conscious of this if you have older drivers. There is information on the Ministry of Health website here for older people.