Truckers need face masks. They travel alone a lot, isolated in truck cabs, often with little direct contact with other people. While this may lower their risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, they must still protect themselves and others when making even brief stops along their route.
There is no assurance that a person who talks, coughs or sneezes – or even breathes heavily – as they walk by is not infected. Many people don’t realize they are infected, because they may be infectious BEFORE they feel any symptoms.
Drivers may feel a false sense of security at familiar customer sites, truck stops or other public places. This is especially true if they don’t expect lengthy social interactions. Wearing a face mask helps keep drivers and others safe, along with social distancing and other prevention measures.
High-Risk Truckers Need Face Masks Even More
Long-haul truckers may make repeat trips to hotspot areas of the country. Traveling from one hotspot region to another, and another, puts them at increased risk for exposure to the coronavirus.
Some drivers serve clients who are operating high-risk worksites, such as meatpacking plants. Often, drivers need to wait while a trailer is loaded. At a minimum, there is interaction required to handle the paperwork when picking up or dropping off a load.
All drivers need to interact people along their journey. Truck stops often have drive-through fast-food options that allow truckers to avoid indoor dining. Some we have spoken with report that these fast-food lanes are now more crowded than usual, as the general public utilizes them to also avoid inside dining. Truckers need to keep up the pace to finish their runs on time, so may opt to go into a store or fast-food restaurant to get food rather than use the drive-throughs, increasing their risk of exposure.
Using a mask, practicing social distancing and following hand washing protocols are the best tools available to keep drivers, and their families, safe. Truckers need face masks, too.
More Information For Truckers About Face Masks
As part of the Keep Trucking Safe program, a Tip Sheet is available with information about the use of face masks for truckers. You can download the Tip Sheet here.
The Tip Sheet covers selecting the right mask, how properly use and care for the mask, and has a link for more information if use of a respirator is needed.
The Keep Trucking Safe program is run by the Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES), a project of the Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) program of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.