Transportation companies in Italy are moving freight in the epicenter of the world’s COVID-19 pandemic, but that center could soon shift to the United States.
Pierro Savazzi, communication and relations director of FIAP, a business association for Italian carriers, participated in a video conference hosted by Stay Metrics Tuesday, Mar. 24.
FIAP was created 70 years ago and its members operate at least 40 trucks. Savazzi was quarantined, speaking to conference attendees from his home in Momo, Piedmont, Italy.
The virus spread through Italy quickly, making it difficult for carriers to prepare for a new biological risk in the workplace, he said. When the virus entered Italy, FIAP “immediately advised [carriers] to make an announcement of the situation, taking into account the entire organization,” he said.
Italy already has specific laws for workplace safety, and the COVID-19 situation prompted the Italian Ministry of the Interior to require companies to have safety instructions for all employees that include frequent hand washing, minimum distance between people, and use of personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.
Such personal protective devices are in high demand, and many warehouse workers and drivers are without gloves and masks. “It is a great problem. Some companies do not have the possibility to buy these materials,” he said.
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“We have to think about how to protect the driver inside the vehicle. It’s not simple,” he said. The association has asked the Ministry of the Interior and its members to provide safety devices, like masks, for drivers, but “at this moment it is very difficult.”
Italy has created rules for the sanitization of truck cabs when drivers change shifts. FIAP is talking to its members about the critical need to comply, and the Ministry of the Interior has specified what products to use, he said.
Through a translator who works for Stay Metrics, Savazzi said Italy has put in place guarantees for truck drivers to have places to fuel and eat on the road during certain hours of the day. A lot of shippers and consignees also are letting truck drivers use their facilities, such as cafeterias and bathrooms.
The FIAP is currently lobbying the Italian government to allow trucking companies to not withhold payroll taxes from drivers, “and all the people involved in this situation,” he said. “That is the only way we have to compensate the strength of our drivers.”
FIAP is also recommending that its members pay drivers a bonus for their willingness to help in a time of need.
During the video conference, Savazzi was asked if motor carriers could do it all over again, what would they have changed to be better prepared for Italy’s moment of crisis? He responded that companies would do a better job of strengthening their relationships in the supply chain through training and communications for the possibility of the situation, which turned out to be more real than anyone imagined.
“You have to simulate the situation. It is not wasted time to have training and be talking about this situation,” he said.
FIAP shared this article on its website that contains new rules by the government in Italy for transport and logistics safety. If you use Chrome, when the website opens click the translate button.
A video of the conference call with FIAP, hosted by Stay Metrics, is available at this link: https://bit.ly/2UKOM52