Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Vehicles

Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

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Introduction

This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in the UK understand how to work safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with. We hope it gives you a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand how important it is that you can work safely and support your employees’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that many businesses of this type are currently closed for their usual service. We hope this document will help those who are already working because they cannot work from home, as well as help other people think about how to prepare for when they return to work. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.

This document has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For advice to businesses in other parts of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government, and the Welsh Government.

We expect that this document will be updated over time. This version is up to date as of 12 May 2020. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely. If you have any feedback for us that we should include in the next version, please email workingsafely@beis.gov.uk.

This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This one is designed to be relevant for people who work from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on site transit and work vehicles, field forces or similar environments.

How to use this guidance

This document sets out the guidance on how to work safely. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace.

Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take depending on the nature of the business including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

It does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities, and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

To help you decide which actions to take, you need to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other Health and Safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with unions or workers.

What do we mean by ‘working in vehicles’?

Working in or from a vehicle, including:

  • couriers
  • mobile workers
  • lorry drivers
  • on-site transit
  • work vehicles
  • field forces

1. Thinking about risk

In this section

Objective: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19. As an employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

You must make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19, using this guidance to inform your decisions and control measures. A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. If you have fewer than 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. The Health and Safety Executive has guidance for business on how to manage risk and risk assessment at work along with specific advice to help control the risk of coronavirus in workplaces.

Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19. The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.

At its most effective, full involvement of your workers creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. As is normal practice, workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer.

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to socially distance, where possible. The actions the HSE can take include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements.

How to raise a concern:

  • contact your employee representative
  • contact your trade union if you have one
  • contact HSE at:

HSE COVID-19 enquiries
Telephone: 0300 790 6787 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 8pm)
Online: working safely enquiry form

1.1 Managing risk

Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected.

In the context of COVID-19 this means working through these steps in order:

  1. In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.

  2. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible).

  3. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to 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 their staff.

    Further mitigating actions include:

    – increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
    – 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)

  4. Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

    In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

The recommendations in the rest of this document are ones you should consider as you go through this process. You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, for example by trade associations or trades unions.

If you have not already done so, you should carry out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace as soon as possible. If you are currently operating, you are likely to have gone through a lot of this thinking already. We recommend that you use this document to identify any further improvements you should make.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing it on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so).

Below you will find a notice you should display, which can also be provided as cards, stickers or similar, to show you have followed this guidance.

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2. Who should go to work

In this section

Objective: That everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home. It is recognised that the nature of work in this environment will make it difficult for many workers to work remotely or from home.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Planning for the minimum number of workers needed on the premises and deployed in the field to operate safely and effectively.

  2. Monitoring the well-being of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to the rest of the workforce, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.

  3. Keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

  4. Providing equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems.

2.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To protect clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals have been strongly advised not to work outside the home.

Clinically vulnerable individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions) have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing and should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role.

If clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to stay 2m away from others. If they have to spend time within 2m of others, you should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk. As for any workplace risk you must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Consider providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include guidance or telephone support.

  2. See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.

2.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 as well as those who live in a household with someone who has symptoms.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.

  2. See current guidance for employees and employers relating to statutory sick pay due to coronavirus.

  3. See current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.

2.3 Equality in the workplace

Objective: To treat everyone in your workplace equally.

In applying this guidance, employers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals.

It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability.

Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.

  2. Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.

  3. Considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.

  4. Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.

  5. Making sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.

3. Social distancing at work

In this section

Objective: To maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work, and when travelling between sites.

It will not always be possible to keep a distance of 2m inside vehicles. Many in-vehicle tasks need more than one person, for example heavy deliveries or refuse collection, and changing vehicle configurations to create more space may not be practical.

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to 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 their staff.

Mitigating actions include:

  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • 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)

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the vehicle, but also depots or break rooms and anywhere drivers congregate outside of the vehicle. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

3.1 Coming to work and leaving work

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, including on arrival and departure, and to ensure handwashing upon arrival.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.

  2. Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks to help people walk, run or cycle to work where possible.

  3. Limiting passengers in corporate vehicles, for example, work minibuses. This could include leaving seats empty.

  4. Assigning fixed groups of workers to the same transportation routes where sole travel is not possible.

3.2 Moving around buildings, worksites and destinations

Objective: To maintain social distancing while people travel through the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Where possible reducing the number of workers at base depots or distribution centres at a given time based on minimum operational safety requirements.

  2. Scheduling times for the collection of goods to avoid over-crowding.

  3. Picking goods ahead of collection and loading onto vehicles without interacting with the driver.

  4. Reducing job and location rotation.

  5. Finding alternative solutions to 2-person delivery. This could include delaying delivery of large items or using an alternative method, for example, mechanical / material handling equipment. Where these are not possible maintain fixed pairing for 2-person deliveries and minimise physical contact.

3.3 Social distancing in vehicles

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible between individuals when in vehicles:

  • avoid multiple occupancy vehicles where safe to do so
  • vehicles should not be shared if possible
  • if it is not possible to keep a 2m distance in a vehicle, consider additional safety measures

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Devising mitigation measures where workers have no alternative but to work within 2m to minimise the risk of transmission, including:

    – clear signage to outline social distancing measures in place
    – single person or contactless refuelling where possible
    – using physical screening, provided this does not compromise safety, for example, through reducing visibility
    – sitting side-by-side not face-to-face and increasing ventilation where possible

  2. Using a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity, for example in a vehicle.

  3. Making sure vehicles are well-ventilated to increase the flow of air, for example, by opening a window.

  4. Ensure regular cleaning of vehicles, in particular between different users.

3.4 Carrying out deliveries or collections

Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the vehicle, especially in high volume situations, for example distribution centres, despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Scheduling to limit exposure to large crowds and rush hours where appropriate.

  2. Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points and procedures with signage and marking.

  3. Where possible and safe having single workers load or unload vehicles.

  4. Minimising unnecessary contact at gatehouse security, yard and warehouse. For example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking.

  5. Maximising use of electronic paperwork where possible, and reviewing procedures to enable safe exchange of paper copies where needed, for example, required transport documents.

  6. Enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when required and consistent with other guidance.

  7. Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice.

3.5 Accidents, security and other incidents

Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. In an emergency, for example, an accident, fire, or break-in, people do not have to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe.

  2. People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands.

4. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors

In this section

4.1 Manage contacts

Objective: To minimise the contact risk resulting from people in vehicles, for example, taxi customers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Determining if schedules can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people. For example, when drivers arrive at depots, collection and delivery times and break times.

  2. Ensuring delivery and receipt confirmation can be made contactless and avoiding physical contact when handing goods over to the customer.

  3. Preparing for goods to be dropped off to a previously agreed area to avoid transmission, for example, taking advantage of click and collect type arrangements.

  4. Maintaining a record of all visitors, if this is practical.

4.2 Providing and explaining available guidance

Objective: To make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing guidance and explanation on social distancing and hygiene to passengers, such as taxi customers, when they enter the vehicle.

  2. Understanding the protocol for collecting and distributing goods across different locations and agreeing these in advance.

  3. Regularly briefing drivers and temporary staff, communicating to customers and providing in vehicle guides and reminders for passengers and staff.

5. Cleaning the workplace

In this section

5.1 Keeping the workplace clean

Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.

  2. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles, fuel pumps and vehicle keys, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements.

  3. Encouraging workers to wash hands before boarding vehicles.

  4. Retaining sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser / wipes within vehicles to enable workers to clean hands after each delivery / drop off.

  5. Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the vehicle at the end of a shift.

5.2 Hygiene - handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, including the need for increased handwashing, to avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm.

  2. Ensuring drivers have access to appropriate toilet facilities during their journeys and at their destinations and are helped to meet any requirements to allow them to do this, for example prior booking-in, provision of hand sanitiser.

  3. Providing sufficient hand sanitiser where handwashing is not possible.

  4. Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

  5. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the guidance on cleaning in non healthcare settings.

5.3 Changing rooms and showers

Objective: To minimise the risk of transmission in changing rooms and showers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Where shower and changing facilities are required, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean, clear of personal items and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

  2. Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of each day.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks.

Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

At the start of this document we described the steps you need to take to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace. This includes working from home and staying 2m away from each other in the workplace if at all possible.When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE, for example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers. If you are in one of these groups you should refer to the advice at:

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

6.1 Face coverings

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

You can make face-coverings at home. Find guidance on how to wear and make a face-covering on GOV.UK.

7. Workforce management

In this section

7.1 Shift patterns and working groups

Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As far as possible, where people are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.

  2. People who work together in one vehicle should be in a fixed pairing as far as possible.

  3. Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other (such as job information, spare parts, samples, raw materials) and find ways to remove direct contact, for example, by using drop off points or transfer zones.

7.2 Work-related travel

7.2.1 Accommodation

Objective: To keep people safe when they do need to travel overnight.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Where workers are required to stay away from their home, centrally logging the stay and making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

7.2.2 Deliveries to other sites

Objective: To help workers delivering to other sites such as factories, logistics sites or customers’ premises to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Putting in place procedures to minimise person-to-person contact during deliveries to other sites.

  2. Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example, by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.

7.3 Communications and training

7.3.1 Returning to work

Objective: To make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working.

  2. Engaging with workers and worker representatives through existing communication routes and worker representatives to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.

  3. Developing communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.

7.3.2 Ongoing communications and signage

Objective: To make sure all workers are kept up-to-date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Ongoing engagement with workers, including through trade unions or employee representative groups, to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.

  2. Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus.

  3. Using simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups for which English may not be their first language.

  4. Using visual communications, for example whiteboards or signage, to explain changes to schedules, breakdowns or materials shortages without the need for face-to-face communications.

  5. Communicating approaches and operational procedures to suppliers, customers or trade bodies to help their adoption and share experience.

8. Inbound and outbound goods

Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site, especially in high volume situations, for example, distribution centres, despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage and markings.

  2. Minimising unnecessary contact at gatehouse security, yard and warehouse, for example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking.

  3. Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.

  4. Where possible, using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.

  5. Enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance.

  6. Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice, such as preventing drive-aways.

Where to obtain further guidance

Find advice and support from your business representative organisation or trade association.

Appendix

Definitions

Common areas Refers to areas and amenities which are provided for the common use of more than one person including canteens, reception areas, meeting rooms, areas of worship, toilets, gardens, fire escapes, kitchens, fitness facilities, store rooms, laundry facilities.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people Refers to people who have specific underlying health conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Clinically extremely vulnerable people will have received a letter telling them they are in this group, or will have been told by their GP. Who is ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?
Clinically vulnerable people Refers to people who may be at increased risk from COVID-19, including those aged 70 or over and those with some underlying health conditions. Who is ‘clinically vulnerable’?