Comment: Keeping your fleet drivers safe during Covid-19
David Brennan, CEO of Nexus Vehicle Rental, offers advice on how to continue operations safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With stricter measures introduced to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, all organisations are adapting to new ways of working to comply with government advice surrounding self-isolation and social distancing.
While the guidelines emphasise that any functions that can be carried out remotely should now be conducted from home, the Government has identified transport as a key sector supporting essential key services at this time. As the situation develops, the UK’s vehicle hire industry will continue to play a vital role across a myriad of sectors including retail, logistics, utilities, local authority and emergency services.
Throughout this period, many businesses – particularly retailers and couriers – will need to rapidly scale-up their fleets in order to cope with unprecedented demand. That said, businesses must prioritise the safety of the individuals involved in all stages of the supply chain and there a number of precautions that should be taken to ensure the wellbeing of employees, customers and partners.
1. Consider assigning one vehicle per staff member
For key workers still required to travel for their roles, it is important they are still able to fully comply with government guidelines, meaning measures need to be put in place to minimise person-to-person contact.
Businesses should consider travel arrangements to ensure employees are able to minimise contact with others. It may be beneficial to consider scaling up your fleet to provide vehicles to staff who would otherwise need to use public transport or hiring additional vehicles to ensure key workers are able to travel alone. Nexus can support all urgent travel needs nationwide, should any businesses prohibit the use of public transport.
2. Ensure your rental provider is adhering to the latest guidance
When delivering or collecting rental vehicles, ensure that all persons are adhering to the latest government advice. Under the current circumstances, many customers may be uncomfortable touching a handheld device or handling a clipboard for signatures. In these instances, it is appropriate to note that the customer refrained from signing in order to follow government guidance. Nexus’s suppliers will not require a signature for the vehicle on delivery or collection and will instead mark the check sheet on the client’s behalf.
During the rental delivery process – or another scenario where a signature is required – there are several means of obtaining a signature while respecting social distancing etiquette. One approach is to place the handheld device on a solid surface to enable the customer to sign without coming into contact with the employee.
It is also worth noting that, wherever it is safe and practical to do so, rental providers may now ask individuals to collect vehicles from branch. Under current circumstances it’s not always feasible – or safe – to allocate two drivers to deliver or collect one vehicle. For vehicles collected from branch during this period, Nexus will provide additional cleaning including disinfecting hard surfaces and sealing the vehicle immediately once cleaning is completed.
3. Stay informed of the latest news in your area
The situation the whole country is facing continues to evolve each day and different regions are being affected in various ways. Stay up to date with the national news agenda, but tune into what is going on in your local town and the areas your business operates in. We’ve already seen that petrol stations across the UK are being affected by the pandemic – especially in more rural areas – due to several factors including fuel shortages, issues with staff availability and a significant reduction in demand as the country is urged to stay home.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has warned that a drop in demand due to people making fewer journeys and staff needing to stay at home to self-isolate or care for vulnerable loved ones could see some petrol stations forced to close in the coming weeks. Though the PRA says it is aiming to maintain a ‘strategic network’ of petrol stations open across the country[i], it is advised that people should check that their nearest petrol station is open before they fill up and it is sensible to fill up in more urbanised areas wherever possible.
4. Ensure you’re asking your rental provider the right questions
As we navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to gain as much information as possible from your rental provider. Now more than ever, ‘no question is a stupid question’ applies.
Here are some important questions to ask to ensure total transparency and mutual understanding during this time:
- What should I do if I have already made a booking, can you still fulfil this order?
- Can I increase my vehicle order to meet higher demand?
- Can I flex my fleet temporarily during the pandemic, to meet the increased demand for the required duration only?
- What additional types of vehicle can you provide to help us meet demand at this time?
- How are you complying with government safety measures regarding social distancing and vehicle sanitisation?
- What additional precautions are you taking to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus?
This rapidly-evolving situation is putting increased pressure on businesses and authorities to ensure operations continue to run smoothly. Nexus is continuously reviewing its Business Continuity Plans every day and is committed to supporting businesses through this difficult time by providing the most up-to-date advice wherever possible.
[i] RMIF.co.uk – PRA warn of filling stations shutdown in rural areas