Truckers turned down for bathroom breaks during deliveries amid COVID-19 fears

Published: 20 March 2020

Truckers turned down for bathroom breaks during deliveries amid COVID-19 fears
Currently, there is another major concern for HGV drivers besides the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite completing essential deliveries of backloads for the country which currently faces an epidemic unlike anything seen in this century, drivers are now being denied access to toilet and handwashing facilities at many delivery points and warehouses. As hauliers can often struggle to find the facilities even before the COVID-19 outbreak, it is a major obstacle for hauliers at this point in time. Firms practising this treatment of lorry drivers include Tesco and Boots, claim anonymous sources. Meaning when drivers arrive after a long journey, they have no access to use bathroom facilities as expected.
Due to this, it is becoming increasingly difficult for drivers to maintain the expected hygiene standards set by officials, as well as even go to the bathroom. Considering the lack of materials for consumers, truck drivers will see the implications of the supply-and-demand urgency as well. With items like hand sanitizer becoming a rarity along with access to bathrooms at delivery points, personal hygiene while out on the road is more challenging than ever.
Others have had experience being told to wait in “driver waiting rooms” rather than their own cab. Without any offer to use facilities or make contact with the department they need to speak to.
The RHA has been in consultation with Public Health England to ensure that truck drivers will be able to use facilities as they deserve, by producing a document from PHE stating that firms need to allow access to the facilities for drivers who are currently being denied access to bathrooms and other facilities. This document can be produced at any point of being turned down for access to a bathroom.
Speaking on behalf of members of the industry, while speaking with the PHE they said they were “appalled” by the treatment of drivers following a number of complaints from hauliers all over the country who were denied the use of toilet facilities at delivery points.
The RHA’s Managing Director, Rod McKenzie spoke regarding the treatment of drivers: “This behaviour from distribution centres is simply not acceptable. Preventing drivers from using toilets is illegal,” 
“Preventing them from accessing hygiene facilities during an international pandemic is absurd.”
In response to the claims, Boots delivered a response clarifying that they had always told deliver drivers to wait in designated areas instead of their own cab – this is usually while deliveries are being unloaded and is for the driver’s own safety.
They also said: “We are currently exploring additional locations on site for our drivers to wait to allow for the recommended social distancing guidelines and are taking extra measures to ensure the cleanliness and hygiene within the warehouse and waiting areas.”
Tesco also responded: “We take the health and safety of our colleagues extremely seriously and have worked with our suppliers to put in place new guidelines for distribution drivers which take effect this evening.”
“These guidelines put in place provisions to minimise close contact with other colleagues and supplier drivers and provide hand-washing facilities across all our distribution centres.”
Meanwhile, it is being recommended by officials that all drivers take a copy of the PHE letter as proof that they need access to facilities just like everyone else. The letter stipulates: “there is no health reason to deny access to toilet facilities to freight drivers”.
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