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The National Academies

NCHRP 23-13(02) [Anticipated]

Employee Safety during COVID-19
[ NCHRP 23-13 (Transportation Research Related to COVID-19) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Staff Responsibility: Dianne S. Schwager
Fiscal Year: 2021

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

The transportation workforce—responsible for the maintenance, operation, and support of all transportation modes—is at risk for exposure to communicable diseases such as COVID-19. Transportation workers maintaining or using transportation systems include construction, maintenance, right-of-way, and operations staff; transit operators; shared-mobility drivers; truck drivers making deliveries; roadside assistance and tow truck drivers; toll booth collectors; law enforcement; and other first responders. These workers may be required to continue working on-site and may be infected and are at higher risk of contracting a virus during a pandemic. Beyond personal protective equipment, it is important to understand the range of issues faced and the strategies that can be implemented, along with their effectiveness, costs, and implications.
 
Additionally, for many workers identified as “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic, using public transportation is the most feasible option, however, COVID-19 has made public transit a less desirable mode of transportation due to the health risks and the inability to protect oneself adequately. If transit service becomes less available due to service changes or interruptions, essential workers must have access to other transportation options without taking on additional burdens such as car ownership, extended travel time, and risks to their own safety and health, and that of others (e.g., family, customers).
 
The social distancing guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the potential for unsafe work environments. It is essential to understand how to make work environments safe for employees and system users. In some situations, such as emergency response, it is often required that people be in close proximity to one another. Other transportation functions, such as construction and maintenance, may not interact directly with the public but are required to work in small teams or crews that may place workers at risk. Consideration must also be given to the safe use of transportation facilities such as field offices and rest stops needed to ensure safe mobility for all motorists. Initial understanding, established protocols, and recommendations will assist transportation agencies in responding during COVID-19 and preparing for future pandemics. This research will identify effective practices and strategies to help ensure the health and safety of the transportation workforce.

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