While much of the world is shuttering businesses and going into self-isolation, the men and women of the towing industry carry on. Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists need to get to work just as emergency vehicles must keep running. Without trucks on the road, the supplies and goods that everyone relies on would disappear off of the shelves and not be replenished, proving that service-based industries such as ours are especially crucial during these times of crisis.
Data and information regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is rapidly changing as the media fans worry and a sense of panic. Most large corporations are not adequately prepared for these unchartered territories, let alone the independent, small businesses like most towing companies that do not have the resources or processes to operationalize emergency action plans. Similarly, the very nature of our work prevents us from allowing our employees to work from home or have unlimited time off. And economically, small businesses have little to no safety net to enable these benefits. Still, we are a close-knit community that usually works hard to look out for our own.
If someone is ill, encourage them to stay home and contact their physician or local health department by phone for testing or support. We can only combat the spread of this virus by sharing information on symptoms and mitigating risk as much as possible, hopefully, to protect our own and prepare better for the future. Below are 15 things that you can do to safeguard your company and drivers as much as possible during this pandemic:
- Employers need to have open and direct dialogue with their employees about the virus, its classical presentation and warning signs, and what to do if they become ill or unsure if they may have the virus. Operators may tow 10-15 units per day and come in to contact with vehicle owners, professional truck drivers, repair shop or dealer personnel, and many others during each event, so they are particularly susceptible due to the inability to quarantine.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Change hand towels often or use paper towels.
- At times when you are unable to wash your hands and had contact with others or touchable surfaces, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
- Do not touch your face! It is an unconscious habit we all have from an eye twitch or just rubbing your nose. The virus can live on contaminated surfaces for extended periods and touching your eyes, nose, or mouth allows the virus to enter your body. If you must rub or itch your face, sanitize first and use a tissue.
- Use a sleeve, shoulder, or paper towel to open doors. Carry a shop towel in case there are only automatic restroom dryers and no access to hand towels but be sure to discard it for laundering once used.
- Keep disinfecting wipes in each unit of your fleet. Start and end your day wiping all touchable surfaces with additional cleaning as needed if there is a chance of contamination. The most frequently touched surfaces with bare hands are door handles, door panels, window/lock buttons, steering wheel, remote controls, consoles, cup holders, vehicle controls, dash buttons, shifters, radios, and mirrors. Do not forget to disinfect your cell phone and radio!
- Use gloves immediately when exiting your truck and take them off before touching any interior surfaces.
- Keep masks, nitrile gloves, and tissues in your truck for circumstances when you must come into contact with a customer’s vehicle or come into contact with someone who has symptoms of illness.
- Be professional but protect yourself! Keep a safe distance in communications of at least 6ft when possible – the more distance, the better. It is an awkward time for everyone. If you feel uncomfortable, mention for everyone’s safety, we will do things a little differently to reduce close contact.
- If possible, avoid contact with surfaces inside of a customer’s vehicle while hooking up. If you must enter their vehicle, significantly limit contact and use gloves.
- Other can exceptional circumstances of health or safety, do not have passengers ride in the truck with you.
- Keep your truck well ventilated and windows cracked, especially if you have passengers. Do not put your HVAC system on recirculate.
- Reduce time in places where people congregate, such as travel plazas. When getting fuel, pay at the pump when possible instead of going inside but sanitize after touching the keypad and credit cards.
- Drink water! Staying hydrated can help your nose maintain the mucous membrane and throat moist decreasing irritation.
- Now is the perfect time for promotional pens! Carry multiple pens for your personal use and to let a customer borrow when needed. Rather than cross-contaminating, let them keep it and grab another.
These steps will hopefully keep your employees safe during this international crisis.