COVID-19 has changed everything since it arrived in March 2020 and we are all still adjusting to “the new normal”. One of the biggest changes to the daily routine is staying inside and relying on deliveries to meet our basic needs. Around the world people have turned to services like Amazon or UberEats to get their necessities dropped off on their doorstep.
For delivery drivers, the surge in demand could be an incredible opportunity for growth, extra hours, and higher pay. However, this unprecedented spike in the delivery sectors comes with its own challenges, especially for unprepared drivers.
Delivery drivers are at the intersection of quarantined individuals and packages from the outside world, which poses one of the highest transmission risks for COVID-19. A driver who doesn’t take hygiene seriously could inadvertently bring the virus into hundreds of isolated homes. With such high risks, it is imperative for all drivers to take precautions to protect themselves and others through best health and safety practices amid the pandemic.
Staying Safe and Healthy
In the fight against the novel coronavirus, the best weapons are personal health and hygiene. The best way for drivers to protect themselves is by staying on top of their health with consistent rest, hydration, and balanced nutrition. This way, it’s less likely that a driver will experience symptoms that could be mistaken for COVID, and have to self-isolate instead of work their job. If they do get ill, they can be more certain that it should be treated like the coronavirus until they receive their test results.
However, individuals can be asymptomatic carriers of the disease, which means some drivers might be infectious without feeling any symptoms whatsoever. The best practice for drivers is to monitor their contact with surfaces and other people just in case they are carrying the virus. Adding cleaning and preventative habits to their daily routine can have a massive impact on drivers’ abilities to safely deliver packages.
Daily Measures for Prevention
The two best measures for prevention are wearing a face covering and washing hands.
We cannot overstate the importance of face masks when battling COVID-19. Face masks dramatically decrease particle transmission by physically blocking virus-tainted particles from entering or exiting your mouth and nose.
The CDC recently announced that wearing two face masks instead of one can further improve safety and slow transmission. As delivery driving is a high-contact job, wearing two face masks should be part of drivers’ daily routine.
If you wear two masks, ensure that the inner mask is disposable and the outer mask is cloth. The outer mask should press the disposable mask’s edges towards your face, creating a stronger seal.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, one of the most important precautions has been to wash hands frequently and well. Water and soap alone are powerful agents, and render the coronavirus virtually powerless. When not possible, the best guidance recommends using alcohol-based sanitizers with a solution of at least 60% alcohol.
On the job, it is important for delivery drivers to wash or sanitize frequently. After touching door knobs, car doors, doorbells, and packages, it is critical for drivers to ensure they clean their hands. These high-contact spots are ripe for transmission, which could endanger drivers and the customers they serve. Another best practice is for drivers to clean their hands before and after touching their masks, especially when removing it to eat food, drink water, or smoke.
Latex gloves are a great and valuable solution for all delivery drivers. They can prevent direct contact with high-touch surfaces and keep everyone safe from transmission. If you’re a driver deciding to use latex gloves, make sure to keep multiple pairs in your delivery vehicle, and change them out frequently. Between changes, wash or sanitize your hands to ensure that there are no harmful bacteria that could transmit onto surfaces like packages. Another bonus of wearing gloves is that gloves prevent the hands from getting too dry, which can happen with increased hand washing.
Any driver should take the time to clean and maintain their delivery vehicle. Carry essentials like sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer to keep oneself and the vehicle clean and safe throughout the day. Drivers working for larger organizations like USPS or Amazon can ask management for free sanitizing wipes for their vehicles.
Whenever possible, the best thing drivers can do to stop the spread is to limit close contact with others. The best practice for social distancing is to maintain a six-foot (two-meter) distance away from other people. When making deliveries, drivers should aim to be as close to contactless as possible. This means avoiding touching gates, doors, and bells when feasible. Reducing contact is the key to reducing transmissions when delivering packages. Most delivery apps have contactless options, but some customers specifically request coming in contact with their courier. In this case, the driver should try to maintain a six-foot distance and not linger around the recipient any more than necessary.
For those that have already adopted these changes, what else can they do to deliver better?
Spending Less Time in High-Contact Environments
For every delivery driver trying to improve their game and stay safe, smart navigation is incredibly powerful. One of the best apps out there, Straightaway, can dramatically change delivery routes and lives. Due to powerful machine learning and routing technology, Straightaway can save drivers an hour of time on the job per day. Sure, this software can save time and money, but for delivery drivers who want to limit their contact with others, the saved time can translate to lower risk of infection. Getting through deliveries quicker will help drivers avoid transmission events and keep COVID-19 away from themselves and their customers.
But, what happens if drivers catch coronavirus despite all these efforts?
What if A Driver Catches COVID-19?
If you are a driver experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate. Try to avoid contact with people for 14 days, especially with those that are vulnerable to illness or work in high-contact jobs like delivery.
It is also recommended to take a COVID-19 test, even after symptoms go away. A test result is critical for delivery drivers because they can share a negative result with their employers to validate they are safe for work.
COVID-19 has created an opportunity for the delivery industry to expand, but not without risks. For drivers everywhere, it is critical to take caution and perform the best practices to avoid transmission. Here are the critical takeaways:
• Keep surfaces in the delivery vehicle clean
• Wear two masks
• Wash hands frequently
• Use intelligent navigation
• Maintain a healthy lifestyle
• Stay up-to-date with the latest best practices
With a few added steps to their routine, delivery drivers can dramatically reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission and make their customers safer.