Previously helping to curtail the spread of avian flu, swine flu and H1N1, Clean Harbors is currently on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19—dispatching thousands of trained experts to help more than 1,300 businesses in the U.S. and Canada decontaminate airlines, cruise ships, trains, fleets, sports stadiums, schools, universities and more.
While Clean Harbors typically specializes in large scale decontamination projects, their Senior Vice President of Field Services and head of COVID-19 decontamination efforts, Chuck Geer, said there’s plenty a truck driver can do to protect themselves while on the road. Here are his five “Ws” vehicle sanitization tips for truck drivers to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Wipe down ‘high touch points’ in your cab
Geer says to disinfect your truck each morning before getting on the road with wipes or disinfecting sprays that are at least 70 percent alcohol or chlorine. While disinfecting the steering wheel, console and gear shift are obvious, it’s important to sanitize ‘high touch points,’ such as door handles, seatbelts, buckles, seats, radio knobs and any other typical controls.
“In your mind, go through how you normally drive and take note of all the things you normally touch,” he says. “If you touch it, it needs to be wiped down. That may sound time consuming, but if you follow the next steps on this list, you really only need to do it once at the start of each day.”
2. Wait for the disinfectant to do its job
To allow the alcohol or chlorine to do its work, Geer says to wait a few minutes after your thorough wipe-down before you take the wheel and start touching things again.
“This is what we call ‘contact time,’” he says. “Be patient and let the alcohol or chlorine do its work. If you touch the surfaces before the disinfectant dries, all that wiping you just did was for nothing.”
3. Wash your hands before reentering your cab
Although its been heard a million times over the past month or so, Geer says washing your hands is the most important thing we can do to stem the spread of coronavirus.
To best wash your hands, it’s recommended to wash with cold or warm water and to soap vigorously for 20 seconds. Most importantly, Geer says to scrub your palms hard. “Be sure each part of your hand receives friction, including between your fingers, fingertips, underneath fingernails and thumbs,” he adds.
Washing your hands just after using the restroom is not enough. Geer emphasizes the need to wash your hands after getting gas, picking up lunch or making a drop-off. Basically, any time you leave the cab, you need to wash your hands before coming back in.
4. Wear gloves and a mask when your outside
If all that hand washing while outside your truck sounds like too much, wear gloves. Whether it be cleaning gloves, driving gloves, work gloves or rubber gloves, Geer says you just need something that covers your skin while touching foreign surfaces.
Put your gloves on immediately after exiting the cab and take them off again before getting back in and touching anything. If you are wearing disposable gloves, throw them away before re-entering your cab.
5. What are your surroundings? Keep your distance
Keeping your hands clean is vital but keeping your mind sharp is just as important. While cultural norms are difficult to break, in unprecedented times like these Geer warns you must be cognizant of every move you make and everything you touch.
“Social distancing is effective in curbing the spread of coronavirus," he says. “Stay six feet away from other people and keep an even wider berth from someone coughing, sneezing, or sniffling.”