While the COVID-19 outbreak has seen many over the top reactions from the general public, such as stockpiling goods like toilet paper meaning many others can't access those goods for themselves: the haulage industry has faced some reactions of its own.
A few weeks ago, many drivers were struggling to access bathroom facilities as there was still uncertainty on how to avoid the spread of COVID-19 between staff that operate within transport. As a precaution, many firms decided to turn down their drivers for use of bathrooms and other facilities at distribution centres. Despite handling the increasing demand for back loads, matching supply and demand for haulage across the country. Owner drivers and hauliers working with firms have played an irreplaceable part in maintaining the amount of goods being moved across the country.
This decision by many raised concerns of its own, with many drivers struggling to find anywhere they could relax and take their bathroom break, which many of them already wait a long time for while out on the road. This raised ethical concerns considering the treatment of many employees, not only for hauliers, as there are no real guidelines in place for circumstances such as this in the way that the management of staff should be handled.
Taking action on the matter, the RHA got in touch with Public Health England regarding the approach some were taking with lorry drivers. Immediate action was taken, publishing a document for lorry drivers to present to businesses from making decisions such as this in future. The RHA suggested drivers who find themselves in this difficult position should present the document to their firms, which stipulates there is no valid reason for firms to treat drivers in this way.
It seems some businesses didn't get the memo, as there are still British HGV drivers in logistics (along with many other workers in other industries) who are being turned down for access to bathrooms and other facilities which should always be available for their own health and safety. Now, more than ever, workers who are continuing their daily services should be paid with respect. Without their efforts, there would be no business at all.
Unfortunately, some businesses have not seen things in such a way. It should be considered by the Government that further precautions should be taken if this continues to be an issue for hauliers across the country. A lack of safety for the drivers and other workers in any regard should be taken into consideration for future reference, this could do more harm than good for the workers who are still able to carry out their business. The more truck drivers with health concerns, the more difficult the movement of back loads could become if the lockdown is in place for an extended period of time.
This disregard for health and safety of individuals carrying out essential work could impact the rate at which production lines manage to meet demands for stock and goods in the weeks to come. Transport contractors could have a more difficult time finding their drivers for delivery work.
For any drivers who are experiencing this behaviour from facilities during deliveries, you can click here
to view a letter, explaining that you have a right to use the facilities as much as any other worker on site. The RHA have recommended drivers still operating have the document at the ready to present, to avoid any further situations where firms are in a position to be able to argue against the right for drivers to use the bathroom and other facilities.