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Coronavirus and social distancing guidance for van drivers, couriers and others who drive for work

4-minute read

Coronavirus and social distancing guidance for van drivers, couriers and others who drive for work
Lauren Hellicar

Lauren Hellicar

15 May 2020

Along with the release of its 50-page guidance document, the government has provided a series of FAQs for specific areas of the workforce. Here, we’ve picked out relevant guidance for self-employed people and small business owners who work in or from vehicles. This group includes van drivers, on-site transit, couriers and mobile workers, among others.

How to do a coronavirus risk assessment

The coronavirus guidance on gov.uk says business owners should work out sensible measures to control the risks in their workplace. If you’re self-employed or your small business has fewer than five employees or workers, you don’t need to write down your Covid-19 risk assessment, but you need to make sure you know what the risks are and how to manage them.

Find out more about how to carry out a health and safety risk assessment for your small business.

How to carry out social distancing in vehicles

The government's guidance says that you should “maintain social distancing wherever possible between individuals when in vehicles”.

You can do this by:

  • not using a multiple occupancy vehicle, if it’s safe not to
  • not sharing a vehicle, if possible
  • considering other safety measures if people can’t stay two metres apart inside the vehicle

What if I have to travel with another person to do my work?

If you have no choice but to work less than two metres away from another person, the government advises reducing the risk of passing on the virus by:

  • using clear signs to outline social distancing measures in place
  • doing contactless (or single person) refuelling, where possible
  • putting up a physical screen, as long as it doesn’t reduce safety, for example, by affecting visibility
  • sitting side-by-side not face-to-face and increasing ventilation where possible

You can also work in a ‘fixed pair’ so you’re working in the vehicle with the same person all the time. The advice to keep the vehicle clean and open a window to increase airflow is intended to reduce the chances of passing on the virus if your have it.

How to carry out socially distant deliveries and collections

The government’s guidance says that you should “maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the vehicle”.

The advice goes on to clarify that this is especially important if a high volume of goods are being picked up or dropped off – for example, at a distribution centre or despatch area.

You can do this by:

  • staying away from big crowds by avoiding busy times and rush hours
  • putting up clear instructions and markings at pick-up and drop-off collection points
  • having only one person loading or unloading at one time, if possible
  • carrying out non-contact deliveries with pre-booking to minimise contact with security, yard and warehouse staff
  • using electronic paperwork wherever possible, and making sure any unavoidable exchange of physical documents is as safe as possible
  • enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when they need to
  • encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles when it’s safe and doesn’t stand in the way of existing safe working practices

What if there’s an accident or an emergency?

The government’s guidance says that safety needs to be prioritised if there’s an accident or incident. In an emergency situation like a fire or a break-in, the two metre rule doesn’t need to be followed.

Anyone helping others during an accident or incident should be mindful of hygiene and wash their hands immediately afterwards.

What coronavirus cleaning procedures should I follow?

The government’s guidance says to keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission caused by touching contaminated surfaces.

Clean surfaces

You can do this by regularly cleaning everything you use for work inside and outside of your vehicle. You can use your regular cleaning products, making sure you include things like door handles, keys and fuel pumps.

Clean hands

In line with the government’s general guidance for everyone, it’s important for people who work in or from a vehicle to wash their hands regularly too. Make sure you keep enough hand sanitiser or wipes in your vehicle to use after each delivery or pick up.

Clear rubbish and belongings

You’re also advised to clear belongings and waste from the vehicle at the end of each shift. This is important if the vehicle is shared with other workers.

Should I use PPE?

The government advice says: “Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.”

What’s the difference between a face covering and PPE?

According to gov.uk, a face covering only needs to cover your nose and mouth and can be very simple. It’s something that can be worn in enclosed spaces where you can’t socially distance yourself from other people.

PPE includes the face masks that healthcare workers use, like surgical masks or respirators. The term is also used to describe the protection people wear to limit dust and spray exposure in industrial workplaces.

The government guidance says: “Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.”

A summary of key messages from the government guidance

  • minimise person-to-person contact
  • make any transactions contactless wherever possible
  • provide clear guidance on social distancing rules for everyone, from customers to staff
  • agree all collection and delivery procedures in advance
  • clean vehicles inside and out regularly – not forgetting keys and door handles
  • wash your hands regularly and encourage others to do the same

You can read the full government guidance on working safely in a vehicle during coronavirus on the government website.

Do you have any tips for minimising risks while driving for work during coronavirus? Let us know in the comments section below.

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