A number of announcements and publications have been made as a result of the impact which the current coronavirus crisis is having on commercial drivers.
EU drivers’ hours rules
The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have announced a temporary relaxation of the EU drivers’ hours rules for a 30-day period.
This complies with the EU Drivers’ Hours Regulation (561/2006) and applies solely to drivers supplying supermarkets with food and other essential items and applies it from 00:01 on 18 March until 11:59pm on 16 April 2020.
It includes the movement of such goods from importers, manufactures and suppliers to distribution centres; however, it does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers.
Full details of the guidance on this point can be found at GOV.UK.
The DfT reserves the right to withdraw the relaxation earlier or to extend it if circumstances change.
COVID-19 Statutory Document
The Senior Traffic Commissioner has issued a Statutory Document which recognises the challenges that heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and public service vehicle (PSV) drivers will face in the coming months and seeks to support them through flexible working practices and a proportionate approach.
COVID-19, Contingency and Emergency Planning can be found at assets.publishing.service.gov.uk and represents temporary updates to Statutory Documents 2, 3, 4, 9 and 14.
It sets out the approach that Traffic Commissioners will adopt in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Great Britain.
“It is not possible to envisage every situation which might occur during the current outbreak,” the Document states, “but this may extend from a temporary shortage of drivers or Transport Managers to the possible loss of access to an Operating Centre.”
Traffic Commissioners may, for example, accept a previous satisfactory financial check rather than requiring tangible evidence to show that financial standing can be met in the future. They are also advised to consider making good use of Periods of Grace and of temporary exemptions.
Access to welfare facilities
Concerns around access to welfare facilities for visiting delivery drivers have been brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and it has decided to take action.
It has decided to review its approach, including guidance to duty holders, and has re-examined the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, in particular Regulations 20 and 21.
“We will begin to update our guidance to say that drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work,” the HSE said. “As this is likely to take some time, key stakeholders are being informed now.”
While it recognises that the majority of duty holders do already provide reasonable access to toilets, the HSE has stressed that the welfare of all workers is a priority, not least during the current crisis.
Last reviewed 19 March 2020