Q&A with Teri Snow

eDriving’s EHS&S Advisor

Submit questions for Teri to Fleet@eDriving.com.

Q: What should I do if a driver mentions they feel unwell during their shift?
A: The well-being of drivers is top priority. Ensure that they feel well enough to drive home, or to contact a relative to collect them.

If they suspect they have any symptoms of coronavirus, advise them to contact their medical doctor by phone to seek guidance, but to refrain from going directly to an emergency or medical clinic to avoid possible COVID-19 spread. Once they are home they should self-quarantine, including any family members.

If a sick employee was using a pool vehicle, quarantine that vehicle. Spray it with 70% alcohol cleaner and let it set for 24 hours.

Q: How frequently should drivers be washing their hands? It’s not always that easy for them to access washing facilities when out on the road.
A: Every time they visit a client location (before and after the visit) they should wash their hands even if they were wearing gloves. They should also wash before they eat and before returning home  (this assumes they will not be making any additional stops other than at client locations).

Some facilities have washrooms so drivers may make use of such facilities but be mindful of what they touch after washing their hands and while leaving the facility.

Ensure that drivers have adequate supplies of disinfectant wipes or solution in their vehicle in the event they don’t have washroom access. They may consider carrying a jug of water, soap and paper towels as an alternative to anti-bacterial products.

Q: Most of our employees have been off the road during the pandemic. When they do return, what safety advice do I need to give them, and do I need to provide any safety equipment?
A: Firstly, keep in mind that best practices are constantly evolving so always follow the official local/ global regulations. Access further advice from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

My advice is:

  • Plan ahead – risk assess the potential situations that drivers may encounter and be prepared for worse case scenarios (assume that others in public could be potential carriers of the virus. Equip drivers with plenty of relevant disposable PPE – disposable non-latex gloves, face masks, shoe covers if necessary, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer).
  • Disinfect vehicles frequently and establish a dedicated location in the vehicle to separate items that will require sanitizing and establish a disposable trash container to keep contaminated PPE from others.
  • Communicate the importance of social distancing
    • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others
    • Wear a face mask while in public where it may be difficult to keep a social distance
    • Stay out of crowded places, alter times of visits to limit the number of people around
    • Avoid physical contact with others (shaking hands, hugging, etc.)
  • Adhere to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette in CDC’s interim infection control guidance(e.g., cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, into the fold of your arm or dispose of tissues in waste receptacles)
  • It is important that drivers also take steps to protect their families and home environment as they venture out and return back home. They should sanitize anything that they bring back into the home, and discard of any PPE that they have used during the day, avoiding taking it into the home. If possible, drivers should take shoes off and either clean the bottom or leave outside their home.

Q: What guidance should I offer to employees who might be struggling with stress, anxiety or other mental wellbeing issues due to the pandemic?
A: As a leader, be a good listener and be mindful that sharing your own stories and coping mechanisms could be really inspiring to your team members, even if you don’t feel that you’re doing anything special. Showing that you’re experiencing the same challenges as them is likely to be appreciated. Also, checking in with them frequently will let them know you are there to support them.

There are many strategies such as mindfulness, meditation and relaxation exercises to help employees feel less anxious at this time. The Computer Assisted Learning for the Mind (CALM) app has good resources. Other suggestions such as listening to relaxing music, limiting news intake, getting rest and eating well can help.

Employers often have employee assistance programs to help individuals deal with personal struggles both at work and for personal challenges. This is a good use of their services.

Q: I’m trying to maintain team morale but I’m struggling to think of ways to encourage positivity. Do you have any tips?
A: It’s so important for organizations to do what they can to help employees retain some degree of positivity during this time. Encourage them to keep things in perspective. The key to survival is to try and focus on the positives and to keep the negative in perspective. Perspective and choosing to be positive (no matter how hard) helps keeps anxiety at bay.

Encourage drivers to remain grounded, however they choose to do this. When things feel out of control, have them identify what they can control and redirect their focus on what is in their control.

Encourage your team to help each other and identify ways that they can encourage each other, no matter how small. A positive word. Maybe sending a nice text or an email/note. Doing little things will make them feel better as well as helping someone else.

Leaders set examples, so remember to ensure that your tone is positive, and your demeanor is encouraging. As a leader you should be practicing the steps mentioned above. People are drawn to individuals who are positive – we need to show how much we care.