Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but the cleaning routines many trucking agencies are adopting in response to COVID-19 have long been established in the form of GMP and basic sanitation requirements. However, with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic still raging on, many food distributors are required to take extra preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of customers and drivers.
Regulatory agencies haven’t been lax, either. For instance, in the interest of public health, the CDC has provided interim cleaning and disinfection recommendations for non-emergency transport vehicles. Some of the key features of the guidelines are as follows:
- Insist employees strictly adhere to WHO and/or CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing, practicing respiratory etiquette, social-distancing, and quarantining if they have potential illness symptoms.
- Clean soils on the surfaces before applying the disinfectant. This is because viral loads tend to be greater on dirty surfaces filled with organic matter. Skipping the cleaning can result in the virus being present after disinfecting.
- Use EPA-approved or regulations-compliant disinfectants that are proven to be effective against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. Follow the chemical manufacturer’s usage instructions.
There are further guidelines for enhancing the vehicle cleaning process during these times of crisis:
- At a minimum, commonly touched surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning and end of each shift. As a precaution within the hospital sector, for instance, medical transport vans or vehicles should be cleaned and disinfected after use by the patients who are visibly ill.
- When cleaning and disinfecting, workers should wear appropriate PPE, and the doors and windows should remain open for better airflow. If available, disposable or washable gowns are recommended.
- Clean different surfaces appropriately:
- Hard, non-porous surfaces (steering wheels, hand rests, windows, door handles), should be cleaned with soap and water or a detergent before sanitizing.
- Electronic surfaces (tablets or touch screens) should have visible dirt removed with a clean, dry cloth and then they should be disinfected, following the chemical manufacturer’s instructions.
- After cleaning, single-use PPE should be disposed of and work uniforms/reusable garments should be laundered using the highest temperature setting and dried completely. Workers should then immediately wash their hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water, or use hand sanitizer (minimum of 60% alcohol) if washing facilities aren’t available.
- Insist on keeping a good vehicle cleaning checklist that covers the sanitation and disinfection of internal and external surfaces, frequency of cleaning, and a progress record.
Moreover, this is not an exhaustive list of recommendations. Please consult CDC, FDA, OSHA, and other guidelines for more details when setting up a cleaning plan.
As a precautionary note, the FDA has not yet found evidence as to whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through food packaging. However, out of an abundance of caution, cleaning efforts must be increased due to the importance of the transport and distribution systems, as they are vital to maintaining the continuous flow of essential supplies, food, fuel, and medical equipment.
- John Flynn (May 11, 2020), “Tips for Truck Fleet Utilization and Driver Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic”, https://www.refrigeratedfrozenfood.com/articles/99253-tips-for-truck-fleet-utilization-and-driver-safety-during-covid-19-pandemic
- FDA, Returning Refrigerated Transport Vehicles and Refrigerated Storage Units to Food Uses After Using Them to Preserve Human Remains During the COVID-19 Pandemic(May 2020), Link: https://www.fda.gov/media/137964/download
- OSHA, COVID-19 Guidance for Rideshare, Taxi & Car-Service Workers, Link: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4021.pdf
- EPA, List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-COV-2, Link: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
- CDC, Cleaning and Disinfection for Non-Emergency Transport Vehicles, Link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/tribal/non-ems-transportation.html
Other Global References: