Delivery drivers play a critical role in the success of businesses worldwide, across many industries. Drivers not only deliver goods to complete transactions, but they are also a key point of contact with your customers and often act as ambassadors for your brand.
With millions of people relying on safe, on-time delivery for access to groceries, restaurant meals, medications and other goods, protecting the health and safety of your drivers is both the right thing to do and vital to keeping your business operational. The following best practices can help you and your drivers stay safe.
1. Support healthy habits
Poor health and substance abuse can have a significant impact on driving safety. Encourage your delivery drivers to get plenty of sleep, be physically active, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and drugs and eat nutritious food.
Stress and worry can also affect driving so consider offering convenient access to mental health services, including through telemedicine, as part of your company’s healthcare package.
Delivery drivers may try to continue working when they are sick or injured if they don’t have paid leave. You can encourage your drivers to take care of themselves—and not worsen injuries or illnesses—by providing paid sick leave.
2. Avoid driver fatigue
Encourage your delivery drivers to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. People who sleep less than six hours nightly are more likely to fall asleep when driving. Note that caffeine use can affect sleep patterns and potentially worsen fatigue.
Educate your drivers to look for signs of fatigue when they’re on the road. In addition to drowsiness and yawning, signs of fatigue include drifting onto the shoulder or rumble strip; missing turns; reduced reaction time; and “highway hypnosis” (forgetting the miles you’ve just driven).
Urge drivers to pull over and take a break when they become fatigued. Stretching and movement can increase blood flow and alertness. Drivers may also take a nap of 10-45 minutes; they should wait 15 minutes after waking before getting back on the road.
3. Prioritize driving safety
Make sure all delivery drivers are trained in defensive driving techniques—aggressive driving is not worth the risk.
Provide guidelines to avoid distracted driving. Delivery drivers should avoid using mobile phones while driving. Navigation should be set before starting a trip.
Verify that delivery vehicles—whether belonging to your business or the driver—are in safe operating condition. Vehicles should be reliable, and headlights, signals, windshield wipers, and other components should all be in good working order.
4.Provide physical safety guidelines
Park in well-lit areas and avoid driveways that require backing-up. Always lock vehicles when parked and never leave them running unattended.
Handle cash with caution by keeping it as concealed as possible, and limit how much cash you carry. Avoid making bank deposits alone.
Require customers to provide a phone number, and verify it before leaving to make a delivery. Only make deliveries at well-lit front doors—and refuse any orders that seem suspicious.
Don’t make deliveries in areas that feel unsafe—such as dark alleys or rear entrances—and avoid icy walkways or snow hazards.
Always be aware of the weather conditions such as heavy rain and floods.
Try to identify your route and remove any obstacles between you and your customer. This includes litter, tools, and other debris that could be a potential hazard. If it is a long route from the van to the customer, you could take a time-out halfway and try changing your grip for maximum comfort. Also, consider using manual handling aids that can improve safety such as a:
When lifting items try to keep them close to your waist with the heaviest side towards you. Keep a sturdy posture with your feet apart to keep your balance. Make sure to wear the correct footwear and clothing too! Unsuitable attire could also put you at risk of injury. Examples of safety clothing include:
Steel toe cap safety boots
Gloves with improved grip
Lift loads sensibly
When lifting always keep your shoulders forward. To reduce the risk of injury, avoid the following:
Twisting, especially your back
Bending your back when picking the item up
Straining your muscles by holding the item too high or too low
If you must change direction turn by using your feet instead of your body. A torn muscle or misaligned disc can be extremely painful and could put you out of work whilst you recover. Also, failing to follow correct manual handling could result in damage to the goods before they reach the customer. This can lead to returns and potentially a complaint.
Special Safety Steps for Delivery Drivers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During outbreaks of highly communicable illnesses—such as COVID-19—your drivers will be at increased risk of infection through personal contact or handling of products so additional precautions should be taken to protect them, as follows:
Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment.
Vehicles and equipment should be routinely cleaned and disinfected, with an emphasis on frequently touched surfaces such as steering wheels, door handles and touch screens.
Wash hands often.
Encourage delivery drivers to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. If running water and soap are not available, provide drivers with hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a facemask and gloves.
Make sure all drivers have a facemask and gloves and wear them consistently when making deliveries and handling packages and equipment.
Don’t handle cash.
If possible, delivery drivers should avoid handling cash; there are many contactless payment methods that can be used instead.
Maintain social distancing.
Delivery drivers should stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people, including customers. Great care should be taken in collecting signatures; devices used to collect signatures should be sanitized after use.