COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can acquire the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
A key way you can protect workers and others from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is by requiring workers and others to practice good hygiene. Below are measures to ensure good hygiene in your workplace, which in the taxis and ride-share services industry, includes both depots and vehicles.
Remember, you must consult with workers and health and safety representatives on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.
You must direct your workers, customer and others in the workplace to practice good hygiene while at the workplace. Good hygiene requires everyone to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry them completely, preferably with clean, single-use paper towels. If paper towels are unavailable, other methods such as electric hand dryers can be used, however, hands will still need to be dried completely.
Everyone must wash and dry their hands:
- before and after eating
- after coughing or sneezing
- after going to the toilet, and
- when changing tasks and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.
When it is not possible to wash hands, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient must be used as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Good hygiene also requires everyone at the workplace to, at all times:
- cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a clean tissue (and no spitting)
- avoid touching their face, eyes, nose and mouth
- dispose of tissues and cigarette butts hygienically, e.g. in closed bins
- wash and dry their hands completely before and after smoking a cigarette
- clean and disinfect shared equipment and plant after use
- wash body, hair (including facial hair) and clothes thoroughly every day, and
- have no intentional physical contact, for example, shaking hands and patting backs.
To enhance good hygiene outcomes:
- develop infection control policies in consultation with your workers. These policies should outline measures in place to prevent the spread of infectious diseases at the workplace. Communicate these policies to workers
- encourage contactless payment where possible
- train workers on the importance of washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them correctly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, before entering and exiting a common area
- place posters near handwashing facilities showing how to correctly wash and dry hands (for example, if hand dryers are used, place posters advising that hands should be dried completely before finishing) and clean hands with sanitiser
- inform workers of workplace hygiene standards that are expected when utilising common areas (cleaning up after yourself, placing rubbish in bins provided, avoiding putting items such as phones on meal surfaces, etc.).
You should put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of hygiene measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective.
You should also direct drivers to display signage and posters inside vehicles to encourage passengers to practice good hygiene before, during and after using taxi and ride share services.
What do I need to consider when providing hygiene facilities?
You must ensure there are adequate and accessible facilities to achieve good hygiene and that they are in good working order, are clean and are otherwise safe.
You may need to provide additional washing facilities, change rooms and dining facilities. You must also consider whether there are an adequate number of hand washing and drying stations, in convenient locations, to sustain the increase in workers practicing good hygiene. You may need to provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in appropriate locations, such as entry and exits, if there are limited hand washing facilities available.
Washroom facilities must be properly stocked and have adequate supplies of toilet paper, soap, water, and drying facilities (preferably single-use paper towels). They must also be kept clean and in good working order.
When determining what facilities you need consider the number of workers on site, the shift arrangements and when access to these facilities is required. If you have temporarily down-sized worker numbers in response to COVID-19 and these will now be increased, you must take this into account to determine the facilities you need before workers return to work.
I am creating a new eating or common area. What do I need to consider?
If creating a new eating or common area to enable physical distancing, you must ensure these areas are accessible from the workplace and adequately equipped (e.g drinking water, rubbish bins), and protected from the elements, contaminants and hazards.
You should also consider opening windows or adjusting air-conditioning for more ventilation in common areas, and directing your drivers to do the same in their vehicles where possible. You and your drivers should also consider limiting or reducing recirculated air-conditioning where possible.
For further information on providing adequate and accessible facilities, including providing facilities for a temporary, mobile or remote workplace see the Model Code of Practice: Managing the work environment and facilities.
Why are paper towels preferred over hand dryers?
Paper towels are preferable as they can reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by drying the hands more thoroughly than hand dryers.
Hand dryers can still be used, however, there is an increased risk of transmission if hands are not dried properly.
I am providing paper towels in my workplace. What else should I do?
Providing paper towels to dry your hands after washing them is better than using hand dryers because they can dry your hands more thoroughly.
If you provide single used paper towels at your workplace, remember:
- the paper towels should be replenished as required, and
- used paper towels should be disposed of in a waste bin that is regularly emptied to keep the area clean, tidy and safe.
Wastes (including used paper towels) should be double bagged and set aside in a safe place for at least 72 hours before disposal into general waste facilities. For further information regarding cleaning, please refer to our cleaning guide.
What if I can’t provide paper towels?
If paper towels cannot be provided, then hand dryers may be used to dry hands. You must train workers on how to dry their hands. Placing posters near hand dryers may assist with communicating the need for hands to be dried completely. If hands are not dried completely, good hygiene will not be achieved, and the hand washing will be ineffective.
Frequently touched areas of the hand dryers (i.e. buttons to activate the drying mechanism of the hand dryer) and the entire body of the dryer should be cleaned regularly. Nearby surfaces (such as the sink and taps) should also be cleaned regularly to remove any germs that may have been spread when drying hands.
What should I be communicating to passengers, to manage the risk passengers might pose to my workers?
You should consider how you can communicate expectations that passengers using your taxi or ride share service will practice good hygiene, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to your workers and to other passengers. You may be able to do this through messaging on your website, app or phone line, and signage or posters in vehicles.
The messaging should cover things like:
- Passengers should practice good hygiene before, during and after travelling in a taxi or ride share service vehicle, including:
- covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow or a tissue
- taking used tissues after exiting the vehicle for hygienic disposal
- using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- not using a taxi or ride share service if sick.
- Passengers who are unwell or travelling to a self-quarantine or self-isolation location should not use taxi or ride share services and should instead use a personal mode of transport where possible.
- If unwell passengers or passengers travelling to their location of mandatory self-isolation do need to use a taxi or ride share service, then the passenger should avoid contact with others including the driver to the extent possible. This includes:
- wearing a surgical mask, if available
- cover cough and sneeze with a tissue or cough/sneeze into elbow or upper arm, take used tissues after exiting the vehicle for hygienic disposal, and
- use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser to regularly clean hands.
- If a passenger is not willing to meet these expectations, then the driver may choose to refuse or terminate the trip.