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COVID-19 Return-To-Work Tips for Transporters 

A proactive approach is needed when your drivers are returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are tips for getting back to 100% productivity.

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Mark Schedler - Sr. DOT Editor - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

July 03 , 2020

A proactive approach to developing a return-to-work plan is essential to coming out of the COVID-19 crisis in a strong position. Take time to consider these areas that can influence your success during the pandemic. We've also included some best practices you'll want to follow as you get your fleet back up to 100% capacity.

Make a Communication Plan

Frequent, timely, and relevant communication will keep drivers and employees less stressed and increase their ability to contribute. It’s important to include furloughed personnel in communications. No carriers can afford to lose any customers and high-performing employees.

Update Policies and Procedures

Clear policies and procedures in all areas can be a roadmap that guides your actions. During the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, your disaster response plans, medical emergency policies and procedures, vehicle and facility sanitation procedures, and communication methods probably changed overnight. Review your current policies and procedures in light of COVID-19, and then update and share accordingly.

Train and Monitor

Affected personnel must also be trained and monitored for comprehension and consistent execution of new or updated policies and procedures. Well-trained staff, along with consistently sanitized vehicles and facilities, will instill confidence in drivers, office employees, and customers.

Review Compliance Checklists

Conduct a thorough audit of key compliance areas to ensure you’ve caught any potential violations due to COVID-19-related activity:

  • Driver qualification, hiring, and training;
  • Drug and alcohol testing;
  • Hours of service in supporting documents;
  • Vehicle registration, permitting, insurance, and tax reporting;
  • Vehicle inspections, maintenance, sanitization, and readiness; and
  • Hazardous materials, if applicable.

Five Best Practices

  1. Establish Hygiene Practices to Reduce the Transmission of COVID-19
    • Consider sanitation procedures for office, terminal facilities, and vehicles, and keep an inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) for drivers;
    • Assess how drivers are feeling every day, reminding them not to work if they feel ill or have a fever; and
    • Formalize procedures for drivers who report COVID-19 symptoms.
       
  2. Promote Fleet Communication
    • Share changes in a straightforward and consistent manner and limit the number of communication methods used; and
    • Convey optimism whenever possible, but be realistic.
       
  3. Focus on Fleet Safety
    • Conduct retraining on updated safety policies and procedures;
    • Ensure you have copies of federal declarations, waivers, and exemptions;
    • Maintain physical distancing and use enhanced PPE when conducting behind-the-wheel driving tests or check rides; and
    • Reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure after accidents through electronic sharing of forms.
       
  4. Address Shipper and Consignee Procedures
    • Identify customers who use electronic POD's and BOL‘s, and communicate it to drivers and operations;
    • Let drivers know about any specific customer requirements for driver entry at facilities; and
    • Manage detention time carefully, billing for delays.
       
  5. Other Operational Practices
    • Consider digitizing records to reduce human touch and increase efficiency;
    • Formalize disaster recovery and succession plans;
    • Verify furloughed drivers still work for you;
    • Notify the state to close unemployment benefits (if applicable) of furloughed drivers who are returning to work; and
    • Update job descriptions to reflect new roles and responsibilities.

It's an excellent time to question your current processes for efficiency and effectiveness. Talk with a compliance specialist about ways that you can improve current operations and plan for the future. 


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