There is no denying that we are in the midst of the biggest health crisis in living memory. As the country once again extends the lockdown, with hints that it will only be lifted when a vaccine is developed, it becomes more difficult to understand what the UK will look like at the end of it all. But what this crisis has done is highlight just how essential some industries and services are to our economy, and our day to day lives. And below the wonderful staff of the NHS, the haulage industry have been working around the clock to ensure supplies are being delivered around the country, in spite of the crisis. But just how much has Covid-19 impacted the haulage industry?
If you’ve read our blog before, then you know that there has been a driver shortage for a long time. Many years in fact. But while the haulage industry have been struggling along OK for the last few years, the pressure has ramped up significantly with Covid-19. So now companies are struggling to meet the demand placed on them, transporting crucial supplies like food and medicine across the country. And since hiring new drivers takes time and training, it won’t be easy to fix. Even with fast-track programmes for all the people who find themselves out of work, there will still be a shortage for a while now.
Another issue that’s linked to the shortage is the lack of medical exams. As part of your driver training, you will be required to take a comprehensive medical exam to make sure you’re in tip top shape to be in the road for hours at a time. This exam is so important that you can’t get a licence without it, and you have to get one every 5 years to keep it. But doctors are stretched even thinner than delivery drivers right now, and they have been advised not to undertake private medical exams during the crisis (and quite rightly so). This means new drivers can’t get their medical exams, and can’t keep themselves healthy as they help battle the crisis. But the government are reviewing this, and we have been assured this is a temporary measure.
And finally, there is a very concerning development that the government has nothing to do with. Reports have been flooding in of drivers being denied access to toilet and hand washing facilities at delivery sites, with site owners citing health concerns. Delivery drivers have had the legal right to access toilets and hand washing facilities at commercial premises since 2017, so this represents a problem on more than one level. First, it means these business owners are breaking the law. And second, it means that drivers, who are crucial to ensuring that food, medicine and other vital supplies are being delivered, don’t have access to proper hygiene, and can’t comply with government guidance properly. Since hand washing is one of the biggest preventative measures they can take to stop the spread of Covid-19, this issue needs to be addressed.
Relaxing The Regulations
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. In order to support the haulage industry, the Department for Transport have announced that they will be relaxing some of the regulations around HGV drivers. Specifically, the regulations around how long they can drive for, how long shifts are, and what their break allowances are. These regulations have been in place for a very long time, and were designed for the protection of drivers in the long term. But as we are in a short-term crisis, it was agreed that action need to be taken. So, these regulations have now been relaxed But this change only applies to: ‘drivers of vehicles involved in the delivery of food, non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning) and over the counter pharmaceuticals when undertaking the following journeys:
There was a caveat to this though. These relaxations only apply to professional deliveries – and don’t apply to any drivers undertaking deliveries directly to customers.
At The LGV Training Centre, we understand that there is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. No one really knows what’s going to happen from one day to the next, which makes it very difficult to plan. But with so many people now in search of work, it’s a great time to consider the move into what has been proven a crisis-proof career. You can start your journey to becoming an HGV driver from the comfort of your own home with our online training courses. To find out more, just get in touch with us today.