ClickCease Fleet COVID Prevention Tips -

Fleet COVID Prevention Tips

Viruses on the Run: Essential Tips for Keeping Your Fleet Safe During COVID

From delivery rigs to HVAC businesses, any company with a fleet of vehicles can be a hotbed for disease spread, especially in the time of COVID. 

Think about it. Every technician that touches a rig with a gloveless hand, every driver that hops into the cab and snacks on-the-go without washing his hands, and every time your drivers fill up using germ-encrusted fuel pumps: all these instances quickly accumulate into swift and efficient purveyors of disease. 

Rampant spread of viruses like the coronavirus is obviously dangerous for the health of your employees and customers. Beyond that, it’s also a big concern for the health of your company, affecting asset management, increasing business risks, and tightening budgets. 

Even if you think you are aware of disease prevention in your fleet and have a good system in place, the health of your team and your customers fully depends on how knowledgeable and thorough you are about minimizing COVID-19 contagions.

The good news is that you can keep your employees and your fleet safe (and cut down on costly delays and downtime) with a few simple preventative measures and a solid understanding of how pathogens travel (and how you can stop them in their tracks). 

How Viruses Travel Among Fleet Vehicles 

Prevention of viruses like COVID-19 begins with an honest assessment of your company’s day-to-day interactions and exposure to pathogens. Even if you have a company in an industry not often associated with the term “fleet company,” you need to take special precautions if your company operates any of the following: 

    • Delivery rigs
    • Warehouse forklifts
    • Security vehicles
    • Rental cars
    • Mass transit vehicles
    • School buses
    • Golf cars and ATVs
    • Maintenance vehicles
    • Emergency vehicles
    • Landscape and construction trucks
    • State vehicles
    • Agricultural vehicles and equipment

The cold truth about fleet vehicles is that the virus is always traveling — quickly. Countless people handle your rigs on a daily basis and those vehicles may travel hundreds of miles in one day. Other vehicles, like emergency vehicles and school buses, are used to serve the public and come in direct contact with multitudes of people outside your organization, increasing your responsibility for preventing the spread of viruses. 

Viruses typically spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, and the virus that causes COVID-19 is no exception. The CDC has specifically concluded that people who are within six feet of each other for a total of 15 minutes or more are more likely to pass the virus. You can easily get the virus by shaking someone’s hand, even if you don’t suspect them of being infected. Virus infection also happens easily by touching surfaces without sanitizing the area or washing your hands before and after contact.

Those operating fleet vehicles are particularly vulnerable when interacting with truck stop attendants, store workers, dock workers, restaurants, or other drivers and when interacting with frequently touched items (known as high-touch surfaces) and then your face, mouth, nose, or eyes. 

The Importance of Sanitizing and Disinfecting 

Your number one act of virus prevention starts with proper disinfection and sanitization practices to reduce the spread of disease, protect employees, and keep your company rolling along. 

Disinfection is where it’s at. The National Institutes of Health showed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, can remain on a plastic surface for up to three days. It can also remain on stainless steel for two to three days, and can stick to cardboard for 24 hours. Keeping this in mind, unless you properly sanitize and disinfect all these surfaces systematically, the potential for virus spread grows exponentially with every service trip, delivery, and bus route. 

One other fact to note is that while sanitization is a necessary part of protecting your fleet against viruses, it is not a standalone prevention method. Sanitizing only removes about 85% of microorganisms. By comparison, disinfecting can remove up to 99.9999999% of harmful microorganisms, which is considered a “7 log kill.” “Logs” are based on a logarithmic scale and are lingo for describing how different disinfectants reduce live bacteria. One “log” stands for a 10-fold (one decimal point) reduction in bacteria by 90 percent intervals. In the disinfecting world, 7 logs is the most aggressive disinfectant and the one that Spotless recommends. 

Understanding Critical High-Touch Points 

Proper virus prevention begins with a strategic system for getting the whole team and company on board with disinfecting high-touch points. Prioritizing disinfection of high-touch points is the single most important practice you can implement to keep the coronavirus under control. 

Just like it sounds, high-touch points are the areas on your vehicles (and surfaces used regularly in connection with your vehicles, like tools and fuel pumps) that get touched the most by multiple hands, making these surfaces the most exposed to possible virus-carrying germs, pathogens, and contagions. 

The most common high-touch points in fleet vehicles include:

    • Steering wheels
    • Cup holders
    • Seat belts
    • Internal and external door handles
    • Gear shift knobs
    • Turn signal knobs
    • Radio buttons
    • All control buttons

Fortunately, keeping these high-touch points clean and safe is fairly simple once you know the right products to use and implement a system to get the whole team on board.

The most effective disinfectant we recommend for fleets is Oxivir TB. Found in the form of sprays, concentrates, and wipes, this is a economical way to blast pathogens from all high-touch surfaces in your vehicles. Oxivir TB is a hospital grade disinfectant cleaner developed using Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP®) technology and can kill SARS-CoV-2 in one minute. It can also be used as a sanitizer on soft surfaces. 

That dwell time or kill time is important. Dwell time refers to the time a disinfectant needs to remain wet on a surface before it can effectively kill germs. Most CDC- and EPA-approved disinfectants have a dwell time of at least 10 minutes. However, when you have to hit the road quickly and change drivers within minutes or prepare your vehicles for passengers, you can’t wait around. Just a quick spray or wipe is all you need with Oxivir TB, and you’ll be well ahead of the curve.

As with any disinfectant, always make sure you read the label correctly to determine proper dwell time, dilution ratio, and application instructions. For products that you would use for disease control in a fleet, having one multi-purpose highly effective cleaner might be your best option. 

Tips for Disinfecting On the Go 

Get your disinfection system working like a well-oiled machine and you’ll be doing your part to keep your fleet, employees, customers, and community safe. 

Follow these simple tips to ensure protection against COVID-19 and other harmful viruses. 

1. Supply Sanitizer and Disinfectant On the Road

Always make sure your rigs and vehicles are stocked with not only disinfectant wipes and sprays, but also hand sanitizers. Offer every possible option for your drivers to keep their hands and their rigs clean, especially when stopping to fuel up or getting food and eating on the road (which can potentially lead to a greater spread of pathogens). 

We also recommend that you have your divers wear disposable gloves or use a paper towel at gas pumps to cut down on the potential germ fest that happens at these high-traffic areas. Make sure your drivers dispose of their gloves after each use to not track germs back into the cab.

2. Clean and Disinfect Hot Spots and High-Touch Points Daily

Don’t use bleach. While cleaners comprised of 70% bleach can be effective if used correctly, Oxivir TB wipes and spray are much more effective, easier to use, and don’t require completely airing out the space before using the vehicle. Bleach can also damage the vinyl, leather, and trim, making it a poor choice for disinfecting vehicles. 

3. Remember the Easily Forgotten Surfaces

Bedding and electronic devices can also quickly transfer viruses if not properly disinfected and cleaned. Incorporate regularly laundering bedding and wiping down electronic devices to thoroughly clear away traces of harmful bacteria. Equipment used and stored in the vehicle should also be routinely and thoroughly disinfected and cleaned.

4. Ensure technicians take precautions

Drivers and passengers aren’t the only people you need to worry about protecting. Technicians also need to be practicing proper disinfection techniques. Ensure that all technicians wear protective gloves when servicing a vehicle. They should also thoroughly wipe down high-touch surfaces while working on vehicles, especially door handles, steering wheels, and gear shifts, following up with a thorough hand-washing and sanitizing. Also, every time a vehicle is serviced it should be thoroughly disinfected before anyone drives it or rides in it. 

5. Establish solid social distancing practices

You can beef up the efficacy of disinfection practices with CDC social distancing guidelines. One of the most proactive steps you can take is asking a passenger to sit in the back seat if two passengers are traveling in a vehicle to a job site. If you must haul multiple passengers, consider adjusting occupancy restrictions or staggering work hours to enforce the six-foot rule. 

Adjusting refueling behaviors is another effective precaution. You can have your drivers wipe down the fuel pump handle and keypad before inputting their odometer number and driver ID. Arm you drivers with wipes that they can use to quickly disinfect fuel cards. If your drivers share fuel cards, consider assigning individual cards at this time until the coronavirus is much more under control.

Finally, when possible, adapt contactless payment methods into your drivers’ routines. Drivers can even use knuckles rather than fingertips to touch these high-touch areas, reducing the surface contact with bacteria and germs. 

6.Establish impeccable communication standards

None of these proactive measures will help keep your drivers, customers, and fleet safe unless you properly communicate the importance of pathogen prevention. 

    • Begin by sending a company-wide memo and ensuring that each team member understands the disinfection process and company strategy for preventing virus spread. 
    • Reinforce your company guidelines with signs and notifications in each rig or vehicle, highlighting the protocols for disinfection, social distancing, and managing high-touch points. 
    • Document sanitizing in each rig with a schedule on which you’ll have drivers sign off, keeping them accountable and your sanitizing records transparent. 
    • Offer tutorials on proper hand washing, sanitizing, and disinfecting methods, along with providing sanitizer and wipes in every vehicle. 
    • Enforce rules for mask wearing and social distancing, including in break rooms. You may even want drivers to call dispatch ahead of time to see how many people are in a break room before clocking out.

What To Do In Case of COVID-19 Exposure 

Even the best disinfection processes and strategies aren’t guaranteed to prevent COVID-19 and other viruses. In the case of COVID-19 exposure, we have specific recommendations for companies with a fleet. 

First, you’ll want to use red tags to identify affected vehicles so drivers know to avoid touching them or working on them. Keep them in an isolated location until you can get them professionally cleaned and disinfected. 

As for the vehicles that have not been directly affected, make sure you are enforcing the use of masks if there is more than one individual in the cab. If your technicians are working on vehicles and there has been a COVID outbreak in the workplace, tighten up restrictions on social distancing, mask wearing, and documentation of sanitizing and disinfecting processes. 

You’ll also want to schedule a professional cleaning company to come disinfect your fleet as soon as possible. The company you choose should be highly trained and certified in disinfecting for COVID and other viruses and should use electrostatic technology for proactive disease prevention. 

Electrostatic technology is what Spotless Cleaning Chicago uses to disinfect fleets and combined with cleaning is a CDC-approved method for combating the coronavirus. Effective for stripping dirt, dust, and germs, electrostatic spray surface disinfecting uses an electrostatically charged mist that sprays evenly onto surfaces and objects for coating high-touch areas and zapping bacteria immediately. 

Want more information on keeping your fleet clean or need a professional cleaning? Reach out to us today for advice or to book an appointment.

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