26 March 2020

Logistics industry workers are 'key'

At the time of writing, many logistics workers in the UK are now considered ‘key workers’ in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This means that, rather than staying at home, healthy logistics workers can continue to keep the nation’s supply chains moving, carrying out essential duties that ensure we all have what we need during this period of uncertainty.

Logistics businesses that have been classed as key include:

  • those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment. 
  • those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).  
  • those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating throughout COVID-19, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.  
  • those in the oil, gas, electricity, waste disposal and water sectors (including sewerage), as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear and chemicals industry.

Now more than ever, it’s plain to see the vital role the logistics industry plays in the UK’s core infrastructure - something we have always recognised and understood at Touchstar. We are immensely proud of the logistics sector and to support its continued diligence at such a challenging time. Our systems are playing their own part in keeping vital supply chains, such as food and fuel distribution, running smoothly. In addition, we aim to signpost logistics businesses towards pragmatic advice and information designed to protect health and keep operations moving.

Where logistics companies and key workers can find information and guidance 

The COVID-19 pandemic has developed rapidly, indeed far more quickly than many of us would have anticipated. We are all trying to adapt the way we live and work. As key workers, those within logistics businesses require clear and cohesive guidance on continuing to run their operations safely and without risk to their employees or customers.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has created an online Coronavirus Advice Hub, containing important information and guidance specifically for the logistics industry. With direct links to government, the FTA is an authoritative resource, well-placed to provide official advice and ensure the needs of the sector are heard. We will be keeping a close eye on this resource during this time and encourage our customers to do the same.

The FTA is also running a CoronavirusLogistics Impact Survey. This enables logistics firms to confidentially share the ways in which their operations are being impacted by COVID-19 and crucially, to inform the FTA’s briefings with government officials, including the Secretary of State for Business, Environment and Industry Strategy (BEIS). Survey results will be published weekly and will give invaluable insight into the challenges the industry faces over the coming weeks, as well as how these change over time.

The first FTA survey was published on 20th March, with results from 553 respondents. At this point, approximately 10 per cent of HGV drivers were self-isolating due to the virus, and those surveyed reported the biggest negative impacts to business planning and revenue.

How logistics businesses can protect their key workers and customers

With the country depending on the national supply chain more than ever before, it’s imperative that logistics businesses know the correct steps to take to protect the health of key workers and customers, while still carrying out their roles. There is a full list of official government advice for businesses on COVID-19 on gov.uk, as well as guidance on what to do if someone becomes ill on site, and downloadable posters and leaflets to remind staff of public health advice.

Here are some of the key points:

  • If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home.  
  • Employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues. Employers should provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff and encourage them to use them.  
  • Objects and surfaces that are touched regularly should be frequently cleaned and disinfected, using standard cleaning products.  
  • Employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients.  
  • Employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible.  

Of course, these guidelines could change at any time, so we’ll do our best to share any new information affecting the logistics industry as and when it becomes available.  

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