Stormont must act urgently to enforce protections for drivers and hauliers

Unite logo white out of redStrict enforcement of Public Health Agency Covid-19 guidance needed to ensure health and safety of road hauliers

Drivers won’t become collateral damage when protections are flouted by employers more focused on profiting from the current crisis

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer called on the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce legislation to ensure strict enforcement of health and safety infection control guidance for road transport workers.

“We need to see urgent action from Ministers to secure the health and safety of road transport drivers. That must mean legislation to strictly enforce the Public Health Agency (PHA) Covid-19 guidelines on companies who employ drivers to deliver non-essential goods to domestic premises or who drive heavy goods vehicle to transport essential food supplies to stores.

“Drivers are entitled to the same protections afforded to other essential workers. They are on the front-line and our union will not allow them to become collateral damage to bosses who flout PHA guidance in order to make more profit from the current crisis”.

Mr Brash continued, “safe systems of work and personal protective equipment are essential to protecting our members in transport and food distribution, their families and the wider community.

“We need to see Stormont legislate to make mandatory proper infection control. That must include risk assessment; prevention or control of exposure; measures to enable social distancing of two metres, including staggered breaks, start and finish times and safe travel arrangements; workplace cleansing; appropriate hand-washing, changing and toilet facilities and eating areas, if open; the free availability of hand cleaning facilities/sanitiser and thoroughly cleaned or single-use PPE; driver access to welfare facilities and HSE advice; and facilities for isolating.

“The enforcement of strict workplace cleansing is one of the biggest concerns we are hearing back from drivers who are expected to get into cabs not knowing whether the previous occupant is in self-isolation or if a thoroughgoing internal cleaning has taken place. Cost should not, and cannot, be a factor when it comes to the health and safety of workers”, he concluded.

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