The next few weeks will be testing for school bus operators. The key to successful return to work for all concerned is for operators to successfully map COVID-19 controls into their day to day working practices.
Of key importance is the communication of these measures to drivers, line managers, office staff, maintenance personnel, cleaners and customers in a clear and effective way. There is a duty on bus operators to inform, instruct and train their workers on COVID-19 measures at work.
Employers must manage all vehicle operations safely and in such a way as to prevent COVID-19 infection to workers and customers. They all must manage any vehicle maintenance or repairs that are needed, and communicate any changes in policy such as hand-washing and vehicle cleaning direct to drivers. They are required to comply with the latest Government guidance relating to employee and vehicle management during COVID-19.
The HSA website provides key links to general information for employers on return to work safely at https://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/covid-19/covid-19_coronavirus.html
It is important to highlight the following resources in particular to inform and instruct employees on requirements for operating/driving buses in a COVID-19 world of work.
- HSA Return to Work Safely Online Courses
- Return to Work Safely Templates, Checklists and Posters
- COVID-19 Videos
- HSE Resources (Posters and videos)
Vehicles that haven’t been used for many weeks can’t simply be put straight back on the road and will need a thorough inspection before the vehicle is used again. This is to help the driver ensure the vehicle is fully roadworthy. Failure to do so could see an increase in breakdowns and other incidents caused by mechanical failure. the driver also must know how and when to sanitise the vehicle effectively.
Drivers will be coming back to a different environment than they knew before. They will need time to readjust to higher traffic levels but will also have new challenges to contend with as more commuters take to the roads to avoid public transport. The drivers will need to be reminded of and confirm they understand and are ready for these challenges. A driver declaration form will confirm their awareness to managers as well as their fitness to drive (free of COVID-19 symptoms) and their acceptance of new policies such as vehicle sanitisation.
Other useful information
It might also be helpful to share some useful information from other regulatory bodies and road safety NGO’s that deal specifically with operation of bus/coach services and management of drivers return to work advising on practical measures to prevent and control exposure to COVID-19. This guidance can be easily adapted and customised by bus operators for their individual businesses as they see fit.
These resources are not Ireland specific, but offer general pragmatic advice and tips. They should be read in conjunction with advice issued by Government, HSA, RSA and DTTAS and any other regulatory or professional body in the bus/coach sector. Further details on: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-industry-information/transit