COVID-19 Procedures for Truck Drivers in New Jersey
For many truck drivers, staying home from work during the COVID-19 pandemic is simply not an option. Whether you’re delivering essential supplies or meeting a necessary deadline, these tips will help you stay safe and decide when it’s time to quarantine.
Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Along Your Truck Route
The best way to avoid spreading coronavirus is to pretend that you have it. From the moment you turn the engine, you should act as though you are carrying COVID-19 particles. Your goal is then to arrive at your destination without spreading those particles to the different communities you pass through.
First, minimize your pit stops to reduce contact points. Gas station interiors are one of the worst places to catch and spread coronavirus; if the attendant gets the virus, thousands of people could be infected by proxy. Only enter a convenience store if you absolutely need something.
When you purchase gas, always try to pay at the pump. Remember to sanitize both before and after you use the nozzle; the worst-case scenario is picking up particles at one station and leaving them behind at the next.
If your route is short enough, consider bringing your own meals and snacks. Restaurant interiors should be avoided, but drive-through windows present fewer problems. Pay in advance if you can; you don’t want to spread particles back through the payment window. Responsible businesses should be using heavy amounts of sanitizer at their cash registers.
Whenever you must enter a business, make sure you are wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Use sanitizer before you open the door, and use it again on your way out. Change masks frequently; ideally, you want to use a new mask every time you are in a new community.
On the road, keep your windows down at least a crack so that the air can circulate. This will prevent particles from building up in the cabin, reducing both your risk and your ability to transmit the disease.
When it’s time for pickup and dropoff, try to avoid contact with the loading team. Apply hand sanitizer both before and after you sign documents; if possible, use your own pen. Remember, your goal is to reduce contact points to a minimum. Conduct as much business as possible over phone, email, text message, or radio.
Finally, the CDC recommends that you make plans with your employer for if you get sick on the road. If you take a long trip, there’s always a chance of contracting symptoms on day two or three. Be ready to find a place to stay and arrange for someone else to finish the delivery.
Identifying Symptoms of COVID-19 in Yourself and Others
If you notice that you have symptoms, the responsible thing to do is self-isolate. COVID-19 manifests much like a cold or the flu. If you feel sick, assume that you are until you’ve had a chance to take a coronavirus test. In the meantime, screen yourself for the following symptoms while you’re on the road:
- Temperature: A fever is considered to be any temperature that breaks 100.4 degrees. Screen yourself before you begin every route. Check your temperature again every morning and anytime you feel lightheaded.
- Breathing: Coronavirus causes the buildup of mucus in the lungs. Look for coughing, sneezing, soreness in your throat, and heavy breathing.
- Loss of taste and smell: One of the unique traits of the coronavirus is that it damages your sense of smell. Food may seem bland or unusually flavorless right before other symptoms emerge.
- Exhaustion: Like other illnesses, COVID-19 takes a toll on your body. You may feel tired, dizzy, or disoriented.
- Nausea and diarrhea: Although not as common, gastrointestinal issues can be a sign of COVID-19. Watch what you eat to avoid food poisoning, and treat stomach problems as a potential symptom.
Although it’s easy to notice symptoms in yourself, it’s nearly impossible to tell if other people are sick. Trust businesses to screen their employees before shifts start, and do your best to avoid other customers. Anyone coughing in the same vicinity as you should be cause for alarm; if you get coughed on, plan to self-isolate as soon as possible.
When Is It Time to Quarantine?
In an ideal scenario, truck drivers should quarantine for at least 10 days after every completed route. If no symptoms have appeared within this time, you can be cleared to take another trip.
Unfortunately, the economy is not always able to sustain ideal quarantining procedures. Even if you have absolutely no symptoms, you should still wait for three to five days between major trips. Be honest with yourself about how you feel; if you start to notice breathing problems or excessive exhaustion on day five, you should continue your isolation.
You absolutely must contact your employer and put yourself into quarantine if you:
- Develop a fever and/or cough.
- Get coughed or sneezed on.
- Come into contact with a person who has symptoms.
- Test positive for COVID-19.
Finally, New Jersey requires that travelers coming from high-risk states need to quarantine for 14 days. Thirty-one states are on this list; if you’ve been driving through the United States, you probably need to quarantine when you return home to New Jersey.
Truck drivers come into contact with hundreds of people and travel thousands of miles for a single job. If you contract COVID-19, you have a far higher transmission potential than workers in other industries. For the sake of the entire community, be realistic about your symptoms, and stay home if you do not feel well.
The Trucker’s COVID-19 Safety Kit
Every employer should make sure that their truckers have the supplies necessary for a safe and low-transmission trip. The following items will help you minimize contact and should be staples of a well-equipped truck cabin.
- Hand sanitizer accessible from the driver’s seat
- Disposable masks for entering stores
- Cloth masks for casual and emergency wear
- Thermometer for regular temperature checks
- Pen and paper to avoid unecessary contact
- Food and water to reduce the number of required stops
You may also want to supply yourself with gloves, sanitizing wipes, and various conveniences that you might normally buy from the store. Don’t use ibuprofen or other medications that might reduce your fever. You need your screenings to be accurate to make sure you’re safe to drive.
Ultimately, working as a truck driver during the COVID-19 pandemic inherently puts you and the other people on your route at a certain amount of risk. As a driver, the best you can do is to reduce points of contact and sanitize everything you touch along the way. Ask your employer what they’re doing to minimize contact at pickup and dropoff points, and request that they provide you with reasonable protective equipment.
Trucking accidents still happen during a pandemic. If you run into trouble on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your reliable New Jersey trucking accident attorney. RAM Law is here to discuss everything from minor scrapes to major accidents; give us a call at (732)-394-1549, or contact us online to find out more.