Busy places where employees are constantly in motion, picking and packing shipments, driving forklifts, and interacting with one another, warehouses and distribution centers must take special care to ensure that their employees, business partners, and customers stay healthy and safe.
“While most desk employees can accomplish tasks from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, the nation’s 12.8 million manufacturing workers must show up for work,” MaintainX points out. “The latter group of deskless workers accounts for 8.4 percent of the total U.S. workforce.”
Meeting Huge Demands
With e-commerce volumes on the rise and more customers buying from the safety of their own homes, the warehouse has become an even busier place than it was pre-COVID. Expected to protect their employees during any environmental or economic conditions, these facilities are now working on the front lines of a global pandemic—a status that makes them even more vulnerable to potential infection and outbreak.
“Hygiene has become a more prominent issue than ever before across all customer-facing industries in light of the ongoing pandemic,” Reliable Plant points out. “In warehouses, this is particularly crucial, due to the sheer volume of products that travel into and out of these environments on a daily basis.”
Take facility cleaning, for example. Always essential, this is one of the biggest challenges of warehouse maintenance due to these structures’ physical size and setup, “not to mention the potential impact general maintenance can have on workforce productivity,” Reliable Plant notes.
With data suggesting that viruses like COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days, for example, warehouse operators are putting more time and effort into ensuring cleanliness in all areas of their facilities.
Creating a Safe Warehouse Environment
To help logistics and warehousing facilities establish good hygiene protocols, the California Department of Public Health and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently released a guide to creating a safe, clean environment for workers.
Along with wearing the appropriate face coverings, training workers on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and other control measures, Cal/OSHA recommends that all warehouses take these steps:
- Establish a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas and work tasks, and designate a person at each facility to implement the plan.
- Incorporate the CDPH Face Covering Guidance into the Workplace Specific Plan and include a policy for handling exemptions.
- Identify contact information for the local health department where the facility is located for communicating information about COVID-19 outbreaks among workers.
- Train and communicate with workers and worker representatives on the plan and make the plan available to workers and their representatives.
- Regularly evaluate the workplace for compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
- Investigate any COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to risk of infection. Update the plan as needed to prevent further cases.
- Implement the necessary processes and protocols when a workplace has an outbreak, in accordance with CDPH guidelines.
- Identify close contacts (within six feet for 15 minutes or more) of an infected worker and take steps to isolate COVID-19 positive worker(s) and close contacts.
What We’re Doing
At DB Schenker, all of our distribution facilities are taking the recommended precautions to ensure that good hygiene and safety measures are followed. Our managers and supervisors are constantly monitoring the status of their facilities and promoting good hygiene in those environments.
DB Schenker also views these measures as an ongoing process, particularly as health and safety guidelines are likely to change as the world adjusts to lockdown restrictions being lifted. That means we’ll be keeping our staff updated on the latest information and promoting a hygienic and safe warehouse environment for the long-term—not just in response to COVID-19.