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Introduction

This document is for employers and workers in the trucking industry (e.g. fleet managers, commercial vehicle, owner-operators, and independent owners) who transport goods locally, inter-provincially, inter-territorially and internationally. It includes those driving the vehicles as well as those involved in administration, shipping and receiving. It provides an overview of the recommended controls to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

For general COVID-19 prevention practices for both employers and workers refer to these CCOHS documents:
Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19,
COVID-19 Health and Safety Planning for Employers,
COVID-19 Prevention for Workers.

For additional transportation related information please refer to the CCOHS resources “Public Transportation” and “Taxi and Ride Share Services”.

Meet your legal occupational health and safety obligations by doing everything reasonably possible under the circumstances to protect the health and safety of your workers. In all cases, guidance from your local public health authorities must be followed. Also refer to current guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), your jurisdictional OHS regulator, and applicable Canadian or provincial trucking alliance and associations.

Consider the Risks

The risk of contracting COVID-19 increases in situations where people are in closed spaces (with poor ventilation) and crowded places with people from outside their immediate household. Risk is higher in settings where these factors overlap and/or involve activities such as close-range conversations, singing, shouting or heavy breathing (e.g., during heavy labour).

The COVID-19 virus may also spread when a person touches another person (e.g., a handshake) or a surface of an object (also referred to as a fomite) that has the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands.

Employers need to assess the risks of COVID-19 for their specific workplace (including vehicles) and the activities conducted by their workers (driving, loading and unloading goods, performing maintenance tasks, providing customer service, and interacting with shipper/receivers, government officials or the public). Truck drivers may be required to use public washrooms, public showers, and may obtain their meals at restaurants or truck stops. These are all risky activities that truck drivers should try to mitigate.

Control Measures

Identify the measures required to effectively control the transmission of COVID-19. Use the hierarchy of controls (i.e., elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative policies, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)). Use a layered approach and include multiple personal preventative measures in your control plan (e.g., vaccination, limiting occupancy and gathering limits, physical distancing, screening, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, and wearing masks).

Complete a written workplace safety plan that identifies potential exposure to COVID-19 and the controls used to protect workers. Employers should consider the following:

  • How will workers be screened before coming into work? What procedures are in place for workers who develop symptoms while traveling outside of the city, province/territory, or country?
  • In what areas do workers interact with customers and co-workers? Controls (e.g., installing physical barriers, wearing non-medical masks) need to be implemented when people are in a shared space with others from outside their immediate household.
  • How close are the physical interactions between people and how long do they last? Person-to-person spread is more likely with close, frequent, and prolonged contact.
  • How will shared surfaces be cleaned and disinfected? Ensure that all supplies are available, and that the disinfectant used has a drug identification number (DIN) from Health Canada.
  • How will you support workers who are unable to report to work because they are sick, awaiting test results, quarantined, or in isolation? What about workers who need to take care of school aged children?
  • What is the risk of severe illness of your workers or their family members should they belong to a high risk group. How will they be accommodated?

Communication and Training

Inform and train all workers on the risks of COVID-19, symptoms, and the measures to help control transmission. Make sure workers and others (e.g., contractors, customers, etc.) know the preventative measures in place before they arrive on site.

Consider whether language barriers impact the ability of the public and others to understand and follow control measures. Provide information in a language and format that is accessible.

Post signs throughout the facility to encourage physical distancing, use of non-medical masks, cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, and proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Include workplace- specific information and your safety plan. See CCOHS’s Fact Checking COVID-19 Information for tips on choosing credible COVID-19 resources.

Avoid in-person meetings where possible. Use remote communication methods instead (e.g., teleconferencing, videoconferencing, texting). When in-person meetings are required, use a large well-ventilated space, maintain the greatest distance possible (at least 2 meters apart), and wear non-medical masks.

Reduce the amount of paper documentation being exchanged between workers. Consider using digital or electronic methods to exchange documents. If this can’t be avoided, wash or sanitize hands after exchanging documents. Update emergency contact information for workers, including all drivers should they become sick while on the road and need medical assistance.

Update and communicate your policies and procedures on leaves of absences, accommodation, screening, vaccinations, etc. so that all workers understand what is expected of them and the action they need to take in those circumstances.

People working in the trucking industry face a unique set of challenges in their day to day activities which may impact their mental health (e.g., long hours, periods of time away from home, reliance on public washrooms and truck stops for meals). These challenges may be exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check in daily with your staff. Provide mental health resources, including access to your employee assistance program (EAP) program, if available.

Encourage workers to report any concerns about COVID-19 to their supervisor or employer. They can also report concerns to their health and safety committee, representative, or union.

Information on the risks of COVID-19 transmission may change as the pandemic continues to evolve. Keep informed by continuing to follow trusted sources including the Public Health Agency of Canada and your local public health authority.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Discuss the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination with your workers. For current information on the vaccines authorized for use and how to register, please refer to the Government of Canada website, Vaccines for COVID-19.

Screening

Screening is used to identify persons who may be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 or have potentially recently been exposed and may not be showing any symptoms. It is a way to identify people who may spread the virus so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission.

Passive screening relies on workers to self-monitor and notify their employer if they feel sick or have possibly been exposed to COVID-19. For customers, contractors and visitors, passive screening could be a notice posted on the door, an automated phone message, or a website listing symptoms and entry restrictions.

Active screening requires the employer to ask their workers questions about symptoms and potential exposure events before each work shift. Active screening steps may involve a self-assessment (e.g., using a web-based tool, having a person complete a questionnaire, or having a designated person asking direct questions). It may even require a worker to screen each person before they enter the workplace. Screen for:

  • Potential exposure to COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • Recent travel (international or domestic)
  • Contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Community outbreaks
  • Symptoms of COVID-19

If readily available and feasible, consider implementing routine rapid testing of all workers as an additional active screening measure. Consider how you will manage the response to a rapid test result.

Truck drivers who have delivered goods across the border are not required to show a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to Canada from the United States. They are also exempt from a 14-day quarantine. Continue to monitor COVID-19 requirements for travel, testing, quarantine and borders for any changes to the current border crossing requirements.

Contact Tracing

Your local Public Health Authority will contact anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and will work with that person to identify and notify their close contacts as needed. Consider keeping a record of the names and contact information for your workers, contractors and essential visitors who enter your workplace for contact tracing purposes. Information should include their name, phone number and/or email, the date and time they entered the building, and what section or area of the building they visited.

Keep contact tracing information only for as long as needed (e.g., 30 calendar days). Maintain confidentiality and ensure the information is gathered, used, stored and destroyed in accordance with your privacy laws.

Encourage workers to consider installing the COVID Alert App on their phone. This app is designed to let Canadians know whether they may have been exposed to COVID-19. The app maintains one’s privacy; it does not record or share geographic location.

Symptomatic Workers

Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person, within different age groups, and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. Some people have mild or no symptoms. Older adults, people of any age with chronic medical conditions or who are immunocompromised, and those living with obesity are at risk for more severe disease and outcomes from COVID-19. The most common symptoms are:

  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • Feeling feverish
  • Chills
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • Feeling very unwell
  • Skin changes or rashes (young children)

Workers who have COVID-19 symptoms should stay home, even if symptoms are mild.

Workers who develop symptoms at work should wear a medical mask (or if unavailable a well constructed and well fitting non-medical mask) and report their symptoms to their supervisor or employer. They should not continue working but rather isolate themselves from others before being sent home.

Call 911 if symptoms are life threatening. If your worker is well enough to travel, ask them to return home immediately (preferably not by public transit). Suggest they contact their health care provider and local public health authority and follow their advice.

Clean and disinfect any surfaces your worker may have touched.

Drivers who have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 or who exhibit symptoms while travelling should contact their employer and their health care provider and follow their advice, including self-isolating for up to 14 days if instructed to do so.

Develop procedures for contacting local public health authorities for further advice in the event of a positive COVID-19 case. If the case is work-related, additional notifications may be required (e.g., the jurisdictional health and safety regulator and jurisdictional worker compensation board for your province or territory). Complete an incident report and begin an investigation.

Reducing Potential Exposure While on the Road

Assign one driver to the same vehicle. If this is not possible, minimize the number of vehicles shared by workers to help limit the spread of the virus between people. Ensure vehicles are cleaned and disinfected between users.

Keep in regular contact with drivers. Provide updates on any public health measures in the areas they are traveling in and ask them to follow that advice (e.g., travel restrictions). When arriving at a customer location, suggest they send a text or call to coordinate specific details and help minimize in-person and close interactions with others. Send documents electronically or ask drivers to place them against the window if possible.

Encourage drivers to take their required breaks, eat well, and get adequate rest.

Drivers should avoid spending time in public areas, crowded rest stops, stores, or driver lounges. Share information on rest stations that have suitable personal hygiene facilities and continue to use preventative measures when using these facilities. Consider packing portable foods, or even cooking/camping gear to prepare food if it is hard to get meals on the road.

For any COVID-19 related information, ensure necessary paperwork is accurate and current. Check the expiry date of any necessary licenses and driver passports. Consider downloading the ArriveCAN app to help speed up the arrival process and reduce points of contact when arriving at the Canadian border. Keep current with requirements for border crossings, including any future requirement to submit negative COVID-19 tests.

Consider providing an “essential worker letter” that explains that deliveries are being made. While this letter is not legally required, it may be useful when dealing with law enforcement personnel enforcing a local “shelter in place” declaration.

Have credit cards ready to reduce the need to handle cash and coins at border crossings and toll booths.

Physical Distancing

Maintain the greatest distance possible (at least 2 metres) from others wherever possible. Keep all in-person interactions as few and as brief as possible.

Follow your jurisdictional occupancy limits to determine the number of people allowed in your workplace. These limits may change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

Limit how many people are allowed in work and common areas. Stagger shifts, break times, and appointments where possible.

Rearrange workstations, common areas, reception areas, break rooms and chairs to promote physical distancing. Consider using multiple break areas for staff, including outdoors, if available.

Consider how people will use or travel through shared spaces, such as hallways and washrooms. Establish one-way routes where appropriate, using floor markings, signage, and other visual cues. Restrict people from entering zones they do not perform work in or need access to (does not apply in emergency situations).

Schedule workers to work together in partners or groups (cohorts). The use of cohorts reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and helps with contact tracing if a positive COVID-19 case is found in the workplace. Each cohort should stay physically distant from other cohorts. Social activities, where provided, should be limited to only those within the cohort.

Physical Barriers

Consider installing physical barriers inside the facility to separate people and help prevent droplet spread. Install at reception areas, and between office workers. Barriers should be made from non-porous material like plexiglass that can be easily cleaned and disinfected.

Ensure the use of barriers meets legislative requirements (e.g., fire and building codes) and consider impacts to ergonomics, pedestrian traffic patterns, and indoor air flow (i.e., reduced or diverted). Please see COVID-19 Physical Barriers for more information.

Ventilation

Poor ventilation has been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks by allowing the accumulation and transmission of virus containing aerosols in indoor spaces. Continually ventilating indoor spaces will dilute and replace the potentially contaminated air.

Make sure that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems of indoor spaces operate properly. Consult an HVAC professional before making changes to the ventilation system(s).

Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening building windows and doors or other methods if it does not pose a safety risk.

Make sure exhaust fans in restrooms are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and remain on.

Keep buildings cool by adjusting building ventilation systems and air conditioning units to:

  • Increase filtration efficiency to the highest level appropriate for the system.
  • Increase fresh air flow/percentage of outdoor air.
  • Limit use of demand-controlled ventilation; keep system running at the optimal setting.

Where fans are being used, consider that the use of powerful portable cooling fans might increase the spread of COVID-19 if air blows from an infected person directly at another person in closed spaces. If the use of a table or pedestal fan is unavoidable, it is important to regularly bring in air from outside by opening windows or doors, while minimizing how much air blows from one person (or group of people) to another person (or group of people). Avoid high speed settings and direct the fan toward an unoccupied corner and wall spaces above people’s head height. Ceiling fans should also be run at low speed and in the reverse flow direction so that air is pulled up toward the ceiling.

Explore the use of portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units.

In vehicles, increase the amount of fresh outside air by opening the windows (weather permitting) and setting the ventilation to outside air. Avoid using the recirculated air option during passenger transport. Ensure proper maintenance includes cleaning or replacing dirty cabin air filters.

For additional detailed information on ventilation, please refer to the Government of Canada website COVID-19: Guidance on indoor ventilation during the pandemic and the CCOHS document COVID-19 Indoor Ventilation.

Personal Hygiene

Post signs at entrances, in washrooms, break rooms and other areas throughout the workplace to promote good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Encourage workers and others to avoid touching their face, mouth, nose, eyes, and mask with unwashed hands.

Hand wash and hand sanitizer stations should be well stocked and easy to find, near the entrance and exits to buildings and accessible at all work locations including vehicles.

Promote proper hand hygiene practices: wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Sanitizer will not remove organic material. If soap and water are not available and hands are visibly soiled, use wipes to remove soil, and then sanitize.

Wash and sanitize hands:

  • at the beginning and at the end of each shift
  • before and after work breaks
  • after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • before putting on, touching or after removing non-medical masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • before eating or drinking
  • after using the washroom
  • before after contact with others and between individuals
  • after touching shared surfaces and items
  • after handling garbage

Do not provide communal food or beverage services. If providing food service, offer pre-wrapped takeout meals. Workers should bring their own eating service (utensils, plates, glassware) to use at work.

Workers should change out of work clothes before going home. Clothes, uniforms, etc. should be laundered as soon as possible after every shift.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Viruses can remain on objects for a few hours to days depending on the type of surface and environmental conditions.

Develop a cleaning schedule that a minimum meets your standard operating procedures for cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, chairs, etc.). Clean and disinfect common areas and equipment between users. If using barriers, clean and disinfect both sides of the barrier frequently throughout the day.

Make sure washrooms are cleaned and disinfected frequently and stocked with soap and paper towels.

Ensure vehicles are also well stocked with cleaning and disinfecting supplies. Provide disposable cloths, paper towels, absorbent materials, cleaning and disinfecting products, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), waste disposal bags, laundry bags, labels, and tape.

Clean high touch truck surfaces before, during and after each trip. Include keys, fobs, inside and outside door handles; inside door grab handles, pads and arm rests, steering wheel, shift lever and console, dashboard, power window and power door lock switches, radio and climate control buttons, turn signal and wiper stalks, seat and seat adjuster, touch screen, and any other parts that are commonly used and that may have been touched (glove compartment, hood, trunk, van panel door handles, pick-up tailgate handle, sleeping areas, for example).

Train staff on cleaning and disinfecting procedures including applicable Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation, and provide adequate supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Use approved hard-surface disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). This number means that it has been approved for use in Canada. For soft or porous surfaces such as fabric seats, remove any visible contamination, if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces

Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions for safe use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., wear gloves, use in well-ventilated area, allow enough contact time for disinfectant to kill germs based on the product being used).

Used cleaning cloths, towels, garments, and uniforms must be properly handled to prevent contamination, and laundered after every use.

Clothing worn during cleaning as well as any reusable cloths used should be stored in a sealed disposable bag until they can be laundered. Consider using gloves when handling laundry. Do not shake the laundry when sorting. Use detergent and make sure the laundry is completely dry before using. Clean and disinfect bags, hampers and bins used for storing laundry.

Replace garbage bins with no-touch receptacles or remove lids that require contact to open. Line garbage cans for safe and convenient disposal of contaminated items, such as used PPE, tissues, and cleaning materials. Dispose of garbage at least daily and follow up with hand hygiene.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Continue to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for existing occupational health and safety hazards and emergencies as directed by applicable laws and your employer.

Additional PPE including eye protection (i.e., goggles or face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face) and disposable gloves may be required when cleaning and disinfecting. Consult the manufacturer’s safe use and handling instructions or the hazardous product’s safety data sheet (SDS) for recommended PPE.

Consider providing disposal gloves to drivers for use when servicing and maintain vehicles (e.g., refueling). If gloves are worn, proper procedures must be followed for putting on and removing gloves.

Ensure adequate PPE is provided for workers who interact with the public or respond to workplace emergencies. For example, an N95 respirator, a face shield, disposal gloves and a gown should be worn when in direct contact with another person (e.g., providing emergency medical attention). PPE must be put on (donned) and removed (doffed) appropriately, performing hand hygiene before, during and after removing pieces of equipment. A reference to putting on and removing PPE can be found here.

Workers may also opt for eye protection (such as face shields) when in close physical contact with others. Stay informed as guidance is evolving regarding the use of face shields. They are not a suitable replacement for face masks but can provide eye protection.

Develop procedures and train staff on the selection, use, wearing, removal, disposal, cleaning, maintenance, and storage of PPE. Improper use of PPE can increase the risk of infection.

Clean hands before putting on and after removing PPE.

Non-Medical Masks (NMMs)

Non-medical masks might help to block respiratory droplets, but they are not considered personal protective equipment.

Masks should be worn properly, fully covering the nose, mouth, and chin without gaps. Masks should always be worn except when eating, drinking, driving alone, or showering.

Make sure that wearing a mask does not create new hazards such as from entanglement (moving equipment) or flammability (open flame or sparks). Assess the need to update your existing heat-stress program, as mask-wearing may increase physiological stress during high-exertion tasks.

Consider providing your workers with additional masks so they can be changed if they become wet or soiled. Store reusable soiled masks in a separate bag or container. Train workers to remove the mask by its straps and to wash their hands when finished. For additional information on non-medical masks, visit PHAC: non-medical masks.

It is important that mental health resources and support are provided to all workers, including access to an employee assistance program, if available.

For further information on COVID-19, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Note that this guidance is just some of the adjustments organizations can make during a pandemic. Adapt this list by adding your own good practices and policies to meet your organization’s specific needs.

Disclaimer: As public and occupational health and safety information is changing rapidly, local public health authorities should be consulted for specific, regional guidance. This information is not intended to replace medical advice or legislated health and safety obligations. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.

Document last updated April 27, 2021