Trucking Companies Utilize Technology to Keep Employees Safe
Trucking companies are turning to new software applications to help mitigate employees’ fears about contracting COVID-19 while on the job.
These apps offer businesses the ability to keep track of the health status of every employee and respond quickly if one should catch the virus. Such apps are especially useful to trucking companies, given that many of their employees are working on the front lines of the pandemic.
“While many communities across North America and the world are declaring a state of emergency and are mandating the closure of nonessential businesses, trucking and logistics companies are continuing to deliver the goods that we rely on every single day,” said Neil Cawse, CEO of commercial vehicle telematics provider Geotab.
Todd McCann, a trucker and host of the Trucker Dump podcast, said many drivers have been relying on word-of-mouth for updates on COVID-19 cases in the transportation industry.
McCann said that in a perfect world, the ultimate coronavirus trucking app would include constant updates on the epidemic’s hot spots.
“For instance, if the number of infected has been going up in Charlotte, N.C., I might want to take a few extra precautions if I’m going there,” he said.
Updates on other people who drive your truck would also help greatly, McCann added. “I work for an LTL company and we often have city drivers from all over the map drive our trucks while we are sleeping at the hotel. It would be extremely important to know if the driver who drove my truck that day showed symptoms of COVID-19.”
It’s especially important for drivers to have an open line of communication with the office during a trip, said Jane Jazrawy, co-founder of CarriersEdge, a truck driver training firm.
“They need to be able to connect to someone at the office if they need help,” she said. “And they need to know what resources they have if they have symptoms on the road or find themselves in a situation where there is potential exposure.”
Of course, the trick to getting drivers and other company employees to use a workplace coronavirus management app is widespread buy-in.
“The best way to make sure that any technology adoption is successful is through a pilot rollout,” Jazrawy said. “Choose a small group of drivers and ask them to be part of the test and ask them to use the system. Ask the drivers who you think will be the most resistant — if they are included in the decision process and they like it, it will be much easier to persuade others to adopt the technology. The pilot doesn’t have to take very long if you want to get started quickly.”
Also, you’ll want to double-check that the people you want to benefit from the app actually have the technology to run it.
“You’d be shocked how many drivers out here are still rocking flip phones — seriously,” McCann said.
Some transportation firms with deeper pockets, such as Ryder System Inc., have the luxury to design their own custom coronavirus management apps.
“Our approach has been to utilize our existing tools and data analytics capabilities, while augmenting with outside technology partners to solve for a particular use case,” said Gary Allen, vice president of supply chain excellence at Ryder Supply Chain Solutions.
“As an example, Ryder already has safety solutions, Internet of Things devices to track personnel/material handling equipment, and an analytics platform to monitor performance across our business,” he added. “Our business analytics team built our own app to help with monitoring external hot spots, internal case status, attendance issues and business interruptions across our Ryder network.”
Ryder also created personnel surveys to ensure it has adequate personal protective equipment supplies, health screening and management tools to provide guidance and transparency, Allen said.
Fortunately, trucking companies without the internal expertise to create a custom solution can still turn to a number of off-the-shelf apps that can go a long way toward insulating trucking operations from the virus.
Some of these apps focus solely on offering contact tracing in workplaces hit by a new case of COVID-19, but others go much further, offering a complete management solution for dealing with coronavirus and its myriad impacts on the workplace.
The No. 1 focus of employers right now should be employee engagement,” said Melissa Jezior, CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting. “That means understanding at the most granular level employee sentiment about COVID-19, their challenges returning to the workplace, and how to keep the workforce safe — and then taking action to address employee feedback.”
Some of the new apps are completely free, stand-alone software packages that offer truckers a quick way to immediately address employee concerns. Other apps are free add-ons to much more comprehensive workplace management software packages. Still others are stand-alone solutions that come with a price tag.
No matter which solution fleets chose for their workplaces, it’s very clear that employees are going to be looking to their employers to protect their health at work.
Specifically: 55% of employees said they are counting on employers to mandate that workers with coronavirus symptoms stay home, according to an April 2020 survey of 1,000 U.S.-based employees by Jezior’s Eagle Hill Consulting.
“Today, more than ever, it’s critical that employers prioritize employee wellness by engaging and caring for their people,” said David Ossip, Chairman and CEO of Ceridian, a provider of workforce management software that’s offering a free coronavirus add-on for its system.
Here’s a representative sampling of the coronavirus workplace management solutions currently available for trucking companies:
- Kokomo24/7 COVID19Tracker, free, stand-alone software: Kokomo’s cloud-based software is basically a contact tracing solution that enables employers to track employee health and notify employees who have been in recent contact with another employee that comes down with the coronavirus. It offers tools for collecting, tracking, notifying and managing coronavirus cases that pop up at work and at home. Workers voluntarily use the system by adding data regarding their coronavirus state (negative or positive) and then updating that info as necessary, including when a positive case in the workplace becomes a “cured” case. The system uses artificial intelligence to gauge the probability of reported cases needing “proactive intervention” from either workplace managers or public health authorities.
- SafetyTek COVID-19 Workforce Health Analysis, stand-alone software: This free solution is offered by a firm that provides cloud-based software for monitoring and managing on-the-job safety. “We’re making this solution free because we strongly believe that every company should have access to all the tools available to ensure their team’s health and safety,” said SafetyTek CEO Ryan Quiring. Workers use the app by updating their coronavirus status daily via smartphone, offering human resources, managers, safety officers and related leaders regular, updated insight into which workers are available to work on site or from home. The software also offers employees the ability to compare their current health against common symptoms of coronavirus.
- PwC Check-In, stand-alone software: PwC’s Check-In offers truckers the ability to closely track the movements of employees and ensures easy tracing of employees who have come in contact with a colleague who has contracted the virus. Tracking of employees’ smartphones — which occurs only when they’re at the workplace — is handled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
- Ceridian Dayforce Employee Safety Monitoring, free add-on for Dayforce users: This coronavirus app integrates into the much larger Dayforce workforce management system, which offers tools for human resources, payroll, benefits distribution and the like. The app enables employers to monitor the coronavirus status of all employees, whether they are at work, at home or traveling.
- Appian Workforce Safety and Readiness, stand-alone software: This cloud-based system enables your trucking company’s IT department to build a custom coronavirus response management hub with minimal coding, according to Appian. Some hubs can be up and running in about two hours, according to the company.
- Pega COVID-19 Employee Safety and Business Continuity Tracker, an add-on module for Pegasystems’ cloud software for internal business management and customer engagement: Like most other coronavirus tracking systems, trucking employees enter their data into this tracker by responding to a short set of risk assessment questions. Those responses trigger a series of automated actions on the software’s dashboard, which helps managers auto-manage coronavirus.
“With the state of the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolving, Pega quickly developed this app to help our clients ensure the well-being of their employees and customers — while also helping to mitigate their business risks,” said Pegasystems CEO Alan Trefler.
Automated actions can be customized within the system to reflect a specific business’ unique policy on the coronavirus. Users also can integrate the Pega app with other existing systems, including HR and scheduling.