COVID 19 is here to stay for a while
Lessons owner operators and trucking companies can take from the Swedish model.
Five months after the first case of COVID19 was detected in the United states, there is no consensus of what level of restrictions needs to be imposed to prevent spread of the virus. Some people in government favor more strict social distancing measures while other prefer easing restrictions and opening the economy faster. One think is clear – the coronavirus if here to stay for a while and until there is a vaccine or an effective treatment that is widely available, we will have to live with some type of social distancing measures. The more severe the measure the higher the cost to the society in terms of not only lost economic activity and unemployment but in increase of disease and death due to delayed treatment and self-medication, depressions and domestic abuse to name a few.
While strict lockdowns slow down community transmission as it can be seen in the United States, the effect is temporary and once the social costs become too great and the restrictions are lifted the virus comes back and the number if infections raises again.
The model implemented in Sweden takes account the social costs of economic lockdowns and recognizes that any gains made may be temporary. Is widely misunderstood that the Swedish model is a “do nothing” model. In fact, according to Andres Tegnell – Sweden's top epidemiologist as quoted by Bloomberg.com “keeping society open but train people to observe distancing guidelines “is the only sustainable way to fight the virus.
For trucking companies, owner operators and truck drivers who are an essential business and don’t have the luxury to stay at home, the Swedish model can offer valuable lessons. The businesses must prepare for protracted exposure to virus transmissions while keeping a normal level of activity and business interactions. To achieve these goals the truck drivers and owner operators need to be educated into taking a number of common-sense precautions to keep from getting or transmitting the virus.
Effective transmission fighting measures for the people involved in trucking include:
- Always wear a mask while interacting with others
- Keep 6 feet distance
- Frequently disinfect surfaces in your truck and other high touch points
- Wash your hands for 2 minutes
Other stakeholder for the trucking industry such as federal and local government authorities, business servicing the truckers (truck stops, repair shops, fuel stations) as well as brokers, shippers and warehouse facilities should do their part to provide a clean, disinfected and safe facilities for the truck drivers. That requires measures to provide access to clean and disinfected bathrooms, toilets and requiring employees to wear masks, shields and stay at a safe distance when interacting with the truck drivers.
Deriving from the Swedish experience of keeping the economy open to a great extent but educating all participants in the marketplace about being safe we can reduce virus transmission, provide safe work environment for the truck drivers and owner operators and at the same time keep the trucks rolling.
Stay safe out there!