Haulage drivers are considered as key workers during this pandemic. However, few people are talking about how it is affecting them, according to Lynn Holdsworth and Sheena Johnson, who lead the AHPD (Age, Health, and Professional Drivers’) network.
The transport and logistics sector was dealing with some struggles before the COVID-19 crisis, with many companies struggling in maintaining their staff numbers because many of their workers are nearing their retirement while the younger drivers are not entering the industry in the number needed.
Those considering online CPC training might be interested to know that the AHPD network has been very vocal when it comes to the protection of wellbeing and health of the ageing driver workforce, which tend to be exposed to a lot of risks because of the work they do.
This is why it is to no surprise that COVID-19 ended up creating the perfect storm in the trucking industry. AHPD members were asked to tell us more about their situation and how the industry was responding to the pandemic.
There are different ways the pandemic has affected Haulage companies. Companies that are involved with the distribution of food have found themselves very busy, which is the same as the ones delivering online orders. There are some who deliver to shops, pubs, and restaurants who have experienced the exact opposite; they have seen their work completely dry up.
Some companies can provide their workers with full pay even if they have not been working, while some have opted for the government furlough scheme. Some companies are offering their workers with nothing more than statutory sick pay, which has left people forcing themselves to work because they need the money even though they are unwell.
Responding to this pandemic, the transport logistics sector has seen some changes to help with the flow of goods. Some of them include relaxing driver hours to they can work for longer hours than before and also relaxing training requirements for drivers. While such changes are great when making sure goods keep moving, they are going to have a lot of implications on the safety and health of drivers. Drivers are forced to work even if they are feeling tired or have not had enough rest periods before hitting the road.
This has forced companies to balance between protecting the drivers and making sure the goods keep moving while making sure they are following the new guidelines that have been laid out. Some drivers have been worried about companies that have been taking advantage of these changes in driver hours and allowing the delivery of non-essential goods.
Thirteen per cent of HGV drivers are over 60, with the average age being 57, which means the current pandemic and uncertainty is brought into a sharper focus considering the age. Drivers are known to be older and are considered less healthy because of the nature of their job.
Some factors include an unhealthy diet, obesity, exposure to stress, lack of exercise, disturbance and lack of sleep. Experts are learning more about COVID-19, and one thing that has been shown is how it affects older people and those who have underlying health conditions. This is why professional drivers have become an obvious concern.
There have been some instances where drivers have been denied the use of handwashing facilities and toilets because of concerns to do with the pandemic. These facilities need to be accessed by the drivers because it helps in reducing the risk of catching and transmitting the virus.