Hauliers are feeling the heat in the midst of Coronavirus

Published: 13 March 2020

Hauliers are feeling the heat in the midst of Coronavirus
This week the coronavirus pandemic lead to the UK closing various schools, a wide range of events in the coming months and consequently having implications for those completing travel journeys. Meanwhile, other powers across the world have either completely or partly restricted travel in and out of the country. Italy, currently under quarantine is facing record numbers of the virus within Europe. While America has blocked EU travellers from heading to the US, Ireland in the meantime is under lockdown along with school closures across the country.

Speaking on behalf of FTA Ireland was General Manager Aidan Flynn, who said: “Those working in the freight distribution and logistics sector must work effectively, collaboratively and transparently in assessing the risk of COVID-19 to the international supply chain. It is important for operators to assess the potential level of impact on their businesses, put in place the appropriate mitigation measures and to review the situation regularly. Communication is key and it is crucial for businesses to consult with workers regarding this matter.”

He continued: “We are advising all businesses in the supply chain to work together to protect their employees. Mobile workers are particularly vulnerable as many of them move throughout the continent on a daily basis. We are urging businesses to provide facilities for drivers to wash their hands regularly; workers must also be mindful of frequently touched objects and surfaces.

“We are also advising our members to check the website of the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade regularly to see where travel restrictions may be in place – for example, the Italian government has now isolated several regions.  Working together, the logistics industry can keep goods moving and the workforce as safe as possible.” Mr Flynn concluded.

Other members of the industry have begun making appropriate plans and precautions to overcome the coming weeks and the implications the spread of coronavirus could have for the movement of goods on a worldwide scale.

Members of the transport industry are demanding the Government give more information as to the approach they intend to take to prevent the further spread of coronavirus and ensure the safety for individuals more likely to suffer severe implications from the virus. UK health officials involved in logistics and distribution say the responsibility to keep supermarkets matching consumer demand has been “huge”.

Peter Whitehead, MD of PF Whitehead said anything from food to medical supplies has become incredibly high in demand as “a pandemic is something you just can’t prepare for.”
He continued: “For now, we are giving all our staff their own antibacterial cleaning materials, the options of breathing masks and encouragement to keep delivery client contact to an absolute minimum. On site we have locked down the traffic office and are encouraging drivers to take breaks in their cabs rather than mixed canteen areas. It has to be a common sense approach,” he added.

Mr Whitehead also said: “Monitoring staff health and previous travel is all taken into account. We have great agency back up plus many of my management team including myself have our HGV licences, so we’ll keep finding a way.”

Backhouse Jones is a law firm dealing in transport, who offered some suggestions haulage firms can take to be certain they are providing their workers with the appropriate resources to avoid spreading the virus. Suggestions included masks, sanitizer and hand gel.

Offering an update for hauliers, they said: “Over the last few weeks we have become increasingly aware of operators in the transport sector being informed by their customers or contractors that there is no work for them for the foreseeable future.”

“This is usually where links to overseas deliveries are in the supply chain or driving overseas is concerned. Some operators have noticed a decline in the amount of work while others have been ground to a dramatic and rather immediate halt, particularly within the container shipping and freight community.”
They also advised companies double-check contracts for employment to see if they have the right to place staff on short-time during work.

Peter Whitehead also spoke on the matter of supply and demand: “Transport is largely unnoticed and undervalued until the shelves dry up, we feel a huge responsibility to keep the wheels turning.” He concluded.
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