Your warehouse is the beating heart of your company’s operations, and your warehouse workers the force that keeps your business running. So, with COVID-19 sweeping the nation, keeping warehouse workers healthy is a top priority.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in warehouses poses challenges. In a loud and busy warehouse, social distancing and face coverings impede communication. Creating six feet of space between workers also threatens to slow order picking and fulfillment.
Nonetheless, employers who intend to keep warehouses open through the pandemic need to take precautions to ensure their employees remain healthy and able to work. These best practices outline the basic warehouse precautions to take during COVID-19.
3 COVID-19 Precautions for Warehouses
1. Social Distancing
Social distancing requires workers to maintain a distance of six feet at all times. To allow for social distancing, warehouses should limit the number of workers in a given area by establishing picking zones and closing common areas like break rooms. Shift patterns and staggered shifts may also be used to limit the number of employees in one space. Use two-way radios to facilitate warehouse communication during social distancing.
2. Hygiene and Sanitation
Cleanliness is also key to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Hand washing stations should be made available to employees and employees should be encouraged to wash hands in accordance with CDC guidelines. Warehouses should also implement a cleaning and disinfecting schedule, including disinfecting work areas between shifts.
3. Sick Leave and Illness Response
Even with precautions, it’s possible for warehouse workers to contract the novel coronavirus. Warehouses should have sick leave policies in place and encourage employees to stay home if they or anyone in their household is unwell. Employers should also proactively identify sick workers and inform co-workers of possible COVID-19 exposure. Workers who have been exposed to the illness should be given time to self-quarantine and their work areas shut down for immediate and thorough cleaning and disinfection.
Creating a Culture of Safety in Your Warehouse
Protecting warehouse employees during the coronavirus pandemic is critical. However, creating a culture of safety in your warehouse goes beyond the precautions you take right now.
For a safe warehouse today and into the future, take these steps.
Perform a Risk Assessment
Before you can solve safety issues, you need to identify them. This guide explains the top warehouse safety challenges, OSHA warehouse safety standards, and steps employers can take to improve safety. You’ll also find a checklist for performing a risk assessment of your own.
Keep Control Panels Compliant
The industrial control panel is an important component of warehouse safety. Ensuring a warehouse’s industrial control panel meets all regulatory standards and safety requirements is complex, especially as equipment is changed or added. Since improper configuration can cause industrial equipment to malfunction, employers should review control panel schematics regularly to ensure they meet current requirements.
Design a Safer Loading Dock
The loading dock is among the most dangerous places in a warehouse. In fact, one in four warehouse injuries happens on the loading dock. Installing loading dock lights, bollards, safety chains, floor markings, and other loading dock safety measures reduces the risk of slips, falls, and run-ins with heavy machinery.
Invest in Employee Training
Finally, employers must ensure that workers not only understand safety requirements but understand why they matter. Employees should be trained in chemical, electrical, and respiratory hazards in warehouse environments and taught the best strategies for protecting themselves, their colleagues, and your business. While creating a culture of safety starts at the top, it only succeeds when everyone is on board.
During the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, safety should be a top priority in your warehouse. From preventing transmission of the novel coronavirus to preventing trips and falls, make sure your business takes safety seriously. By creating a culture of safety in your warehouse, you can ensure that business keeps moving forward no matter what.
Author: Burt Sims