Health bosses have rejected claims of “gross negligence” after asking workers to unnecessarily go against social distancing rules.
The GMB union has struck out after NHS Grampian drivers were asked to pair up for rounds last week and spend hours in the front cab of a lorry together.
It is understood the idea was floated to help build stock for future absences by allowing new staff to learn the regular routes taken around the region.
The drivers, based at Foresterhill in Aberdeen, are part of a vital supply network and carry life-saving equipment, drugs and other cargo the length and breadth of the north-east.
Official government advice dictates people maintain a 6ft gap from others – something which can be unachievable in the front of a truck.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “We take the safety of all our staff extremely seriously and are in regular dialogue with our trade union partners to support that.”
However, GMB organiser Melanie Greenhalgh said: “Under normal circumstances it would not be an issue to buddy the drivers up – but we are far from that.
“Why would they choose to do so now with everything happening around coronavirus?
“Whoever made that decision was not thinking about staff safety as what was suggested was completely endangering everybody involved.
“Whoever came up with that plan is grossly negligent. I can’t put it any other way.”
Mrs Greenhalgh also flagged concerns about the numbers of staff working without protective face masks while visiting health facilities.
After hearing the complaints, NHS Grampian management assured the union representative the practice “generally would not be the case”.
However, a spokeswoman said: “There are occasions when the physical demands of a job require team working. On those occasions, where social distancing cannot be achieved, face masks will be provided to staff.
“Drivers who are generally working on their own are not provided with masks. This is in line with the current guidance.
“We continue to emphasise the importance of social distancing in the workplace, good hand hygiene and good cough and sneeze etiquette.”
NHS Grampian and its drivers, who are based at the Central Stores at Foresterhill, have had a troubled relationship recently over concerns about harassment and bullying not being addressed.