Ensuring Transportation Worker Safety During the 2020 Holiday Season

In the field of transportation, distractions can be deadly—even those that generally go unseen.

It’s safe to say that no one is operating at full steam right now. People are stressed and worried, and for good reason, considering the current state of the world. This isn’t necessarily detrimental to some professions—it simply means that work tasks might take longer or become more involved. However, in the field of transportation, distractions can be deadly—even those that generally go unseen.

Current events and more localized happenings can bring on fear, isolation, anxiety and even depression. Society is experiencing quite the downturn, and not just because of COVID-19.

Shipping and retail fulfillment workers have it rough right now. With major supply issues, increasing demand, concerns about COVID-19 and various other factors, personal and mental health can fall by the wayside. There are also layoffs, economic shifts, climate issues and tumultuous politics. All these things can distract and bring down people’s spirits, ultimately resulting in a significant performance hit, especially in the transportation sector.

These concerns raise the questions: What can be done? What actions can employers and workers take to ensure optimal safety?

1. Equip Appropriately

It may seem silly to point out the obvious, but workers should be wearing the proper protective gear, warm clothing or assistive apparel depending on the task. For example, long-haul truckers may want to wear moisture-wicking gloves to keep their hands warm and dry. Warehouse employees should be wearing helmets, highly visible vests and any additional protective gear required for their duties.

Believe it or not, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and forget some of the necessities, protective equipment included. Double-check to make sure workers have everything crucial for a safe, productive day.

Administrators should continually provide workers with the equipment and gear they need, which may require regular audits to check the conditions of existing or assigned items. Trucks and company-issued vehicles should always undergo contingent review, service and repair cycles.

2. Slow Down

Whether they are strapped for time or not, the faster people try to move, the more likely they are to make mistakes. On the road, especially during the busy holiday season, even a minor misstep can prove fatal. Workers must slow down and take their time. Drivers should maintain speed limits and adjust accordingly for local weather conditions. Warehouse employees must ensure they cross their T’s and dot their I’s.

Don’t believe the fallacy that slowing down will hinder productivity. In most cases, especially if someone is struggling to focus, it helps maintain a steady process.

3. Rest

Working long hours can be brutal on the body and mind. It is important to make sure employees take time to rest up. However, that doesn’t always mean sleeping. Sometimes, people need a break from the monotony, which provides a much-needed shift in mindset. Burnout is a real thing, especially when working long, grueling shifts.

It can be difficult to work some free time or rest into packed schedules, but it’s vital for maintaining good physical and mental health.

Administrators should do what they can to aid their workers in this regard. If they cannot provide time off, they should make the proper concessions at work whenever possible.

4. Mind the Road

The open road is dangerous as it is, but that danger is amplified during the holiday season. The following should be considered for driving-related tasks:

● Never drive impaired in any way.

● Take breaks to sleep or rest as needed.

● Swiftly remove ice, snow and debris from the windshield and vehicle.

● Always wear a seatbelt or safety harness.

● Maintain proper distance from cars, vehicles and other trucks.

● Always prepare for long-distance travel and bring supplies.

● Leave earlier than necessary.

● Adjust to the weather. Slow down for rain and install chains for snow.

● Focus only on essential loads and cargo.

5. Upgrade Technologies

Administrators, managers and advisors can better schedule and plan events when they have the appropriate information at hand. Real-time data technologies will deliver on this front. Gartner credits IoT and similar tech as making this possible.

Digital information allows logistics teams to instantly react to major events, shortages and schedules. Transportation companies can monitor their drivers through reporting and monitoring tools to maintain safety and provide proper support. It may mean outfitting all related vehicles with the right technologies, such as IoT and data-driven sensors. The initial costs can seem high, but the benefits are vast, especially in today’s hyper-volatile market.

6. Follow Health and Safety Guidelines

The pandemic doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. All workers should adhere to health and safety protocols, including social distancing, handwashing and face masks.

The more people that are sick means there are less on the front lines. Since most organizations are already working through a labor shortage, a wave of COVID-19 sweeping through a team can be devastating. For clients and customers alike, it is vital that everyone follows proper safety and sanitation protocols, even while on the road.

Better Safe Than Sorry

No operation is perfect, but by following many of the tips discussed here, especially regarding health and safety protocols, workers' physical and mental safety can be vastly improved. Humans are not robots. Workers need rest and ample time to fend off burnout in order to stay productive and focused during critical work hours. Administrators and managers alike should remember this and take the initiative to look after their teams.

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