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Coronavirus - Update for Members working in Road Transport

Last updated: 11 Dec

The coronavirus restrictions during the Christmas period have increased the demand for online shopping and deliveries. Our members across the transport industry continue to work extraordinarily in the current crisis. Despite the pressure on warehouse and distribution companies, Usdaw is clear that employers must take all possible steps to ensure your safety.

We have provided a summary of developments within the sector for your information along with key points on social distancing measures which should continue to be followed at sites.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to get in touch with your rep or full-time official.

Temporary Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules

The Department for Transport have issued temporary relaxations for drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, as part of efforts to ease congestion around UK ports and the demand on supply chains facing COVID-19 restrictions.

In summary, drivers transporting goods between warehouses, stores and transport hubs will be able to work two consecutive six-day weeks. This increases the maximum driving hours in 14 days from 90 to 99. The relaxation does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers.

The rules will be in force from 10 December 2020 until 30 December 2020.

Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules

The rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

  • replacement of the requirement to take a full weekly rest period of 45 hours in a 2-week period with an alternative pattern of weekly rest periods specified below. This enables 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods to be taken on the run-up to Christmas
  • that in a 4-week period beginning on 10 December 2020, a driver can take 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours (allowing them to work two 6-day weeks); even if the week before the driver had already taken a reduced weekly rest
  • however, any reduction in weekly rest shall be compensated for in the normal way by an equivalent period of rest taken before the end of the third week following the week in question
  • in addition, any rest taken as compensation for a reduced weekly rest period (other than the initial reduced weekly rest period) shall be attached to a regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours (which can be split over 2 regular weekly rest periods)
  • increasing the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours
  • Consecutive weekly rest periods taken before 10 December 2020 must be taken into account for this relaxation, and up to three consecutive rest periods may include one taken before 10 December 2020.
  • The two subsequent consecutive full regular rest periods, including compensatory rest, can be taken in whole or in part after the end of this relaxation.
  • Drivers must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits.

Who the rules apply to

The relaxation applies to anyone driving within Great Britain under the EU drivers’ hours rules involved in the transport of:

  1. Food and other essential goods from ports within Great Britain. This includes driving of mixed loads with a significant content of such goods. Essential goods include category 1 goods (such as medicines). Where transports of other goods are required to enable category 1 goods to be moved out of ports, the relaxation is also applicable.
  2. Food and other essential goods for retail, including mixed loads with a significant content of such goods. This category includes the following journeys:
  • distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre) • from manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections)
  • from manufacturer or supplier to store (or fulfilment centre) • between distribution centres and transport hub trunking
  • transport hub deliveries to stores

Usdaw’s position

As always, the health and safety of our members must come first.

Drivers should always feel physically and mentally able to work longer hours and should not be forced to work longer hours if they feel incapable to do so.

Furthermore, if drivers cannot work longer hours due to caring responsibilities for dependants, this should also be considered.

Furthermore, the practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and Usdaw representatives.

We expect site managers to:

  • Brief drivers thoroughly so they fully understand the changes and what it means to them.
  • Additional health and safety measures to be put in place to check in with drivers to ensure they are not feeling fatigued
  • The same drivers will not be constantly used/asked to work longer hours

Temporary Removal of D4 Licence Renewal.

The Government has temporarily relaxed the requirement for lorry drivers to provide a doctor’s medical report in order to renew their licence.

If your licence is due to expire in 2020, you will be able to receive a temporary 1-year licence, providing you do not have any medical conditions that affect your driving.

The licence will only be valid for 1 year, at which point you will need to submit a completed D4 form in the normal way.

If you are a driver with health issues, you must still declare these. Any drivers with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed.

Measures Employers Should Take

Employers have a legal duty of care to their workforce and all workplaces which are operational should be making adjustments to ensure that workers are safe. Your employer must have completed a risk assessment to look at the additional risks presented as a result of Coronavirus. Following the risk assessment, your employer should be putting measures in place to ensure the safety of members. How this works will vary considerably between workplaces, but some examples of measures that might be taken are listed below:

  • Restrict drivers entering transport offices.
  • Drivers to remain in cabs whilst unloading.
  • Identify and regularly clean key touch points e.g. door handles, keypads.
  • Take extra care wiping down vehicles before and after each use.
  • Clear provisions for workers to keep at least 2 metres apart at all times, in line with Government guidance.
  • Additional sinks, provision of hand sanitiser and cleaning equipment for all work stations.
  • Thorough and regular cleaning of rollcages, VDUs and other equipment.
  • Increased hours for cleaning staff.
  • Staggered shift start times, with agreement, to reduce congestion.
  • Early shift finishes, and guarantee of overtime payments, where time spent leaving the site has increased due to queues adhering to social distancing.
  • Staggered break times along with extra break rooms with adequate rest facilities and additional smoking areas to ensure social distancing.

Two Person Operations

Government guidance around safe working practices says that employers should find alternative solutions to two person operations where possible, “Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, even through redesigning a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.

Where these solutions are not possible, the guidance looks at:
  • Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using “fixed teams or partnering” (so each person works with only a few others).
  • Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.

Usdaw maintains that unless vehicles are large enough to allow adequate social distancing, employers must do all they can to follow the guidance above and take all available measures possible in order to re-design the work. If you are concerned about being asked to share a vehicle please contact your rep or local official.

Making Deliveries

Drivers across the sector have to make deliveries to a range of different locations which can present a number of hazards. Employers must be doing all they can to ensure your safety when making these deliveries and should be briefing you on any additional measures. There are also a number of steps you can take on a daily basis:
  • Avoid all handshakes or physical contact with anyone while on your delivery routes.
  • Before getting back into your vehicle after carrying out your delivery, sanitize your hands thoroughly and sanitize your hands regularly throughout the day.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down your door handles, dashboard, steering wheel, gear stick on a regular basis.
  • If you do need to use outside toilets, wipe the seat with an anti-bacterial wipe and wash your hands thoroughly with soaps and water after use.
  • Wash your hands before preparing any food or drinks.

Businesses have now removed requirements for customers to sign for goods wherever possible. Where there is a legal requirement for delivery documentation, employers must maximise the use of electronic paperwork and review procedures to enable safe exchange of paper copies where absolutely necessary.

If you have any concerns regarding your health and safety or social distancing at your site, please speak to your Usdaw rep or Official.

Access to Welfare Facilities

Drivers are entitled to use welfare facilities (handwashing, toilet facilities) at any site they visit to deliver haulage.

Although sites will have stringent social distancing measures in place, this should not prevent drivers from using welfare facilities on site.

If you have any concerns, please speak to your Usdaw rep or Official.

Freedom From Fear

As a result of the outbreak, there has been a major increase in the amount of orders placed online and Usdaw members have been working very hard to ensure goods are delivered to customers, including those who are shielding or self-isolating.

Employers should have implemented measures to protect the health and safety of drivers and customers. However, if a customer refuses to follow these measures or is abusive you must report it to your manager.

More information on safety for delivery drivers can be found here.

Usdaw – the Trade Union for Professional Drivers 

We look after the interests of Usdaw members who drive for a living; this includes representation on pay and conditions of employment. We have agreements covering drivers in companies such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Wincanton, Yodel, Hermes, Co-op, XPO, Next Distribution and DHL.

We maintain an up-to-date information system on transport matters and provide help and advice to members.

We also give you a voice through your own representative on the National Road Transport Committee – Usdaw’s national forum for transport matters.

Road Transport Distress Fund

Professional drivers spending a lot of time on the road are more likely to receive traffic offences. As a member of Usdaw, you can join the Road Transport Distress Fund for £6 per year. The fund covers members who receive work-related penalties for motoring offences. After 13 weeks’ membership of the Distress Fund you are entitled to up to three claims per year.

If you would like to join the distress fund, please contact [email protected]

If you are a member of the fund and have received an offence whilst at work, please fill in the claim form and email to [email protected]. Please ensure you include copies of the Penalty Charge Notice and proof that the fine has been paid. 

Driver’s Handbook

As a driver, you need to be kept informed of road transport laws and regulations. Usdaw has compiled a Driver’s Handbook* which provides information and advice for drivers’.

*Please note that some information will not be correct due to temporary changes as a result of the outbreak.

If you are a new driver, you should have received adequate training before you begin your new role. However, if you have any concerns please speak to your Usdaw rep. You can also use the Handbook to assist you with any general query regarding road laws and regulations.

Further Information

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for additional information and advice.

General FAQs –  http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CoronavirusFAQ

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