With the increasing numbers of COVID-19 vaccinations spreading nationwide, businesses and workplaces are beginning to emerge from the lockdown mentality of 2020. Vigilance is still important, however, to prevent mutations of the virus from developing and sickening those still unprotected. Warehouses and distribution center (DC) owners and operators will therefore want to continue to make every effort to protect their employees while they’re on the job.
Here are a few tips about the types of policies and measures your operation should have in place to safeguard the wellbeing of your employees until the coronavirus is deemed under control:
- COVID-19 Policies. All operations should draft and implement a written plan that details how the operation will address exposure prevention, preparedness and response. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a broad range of resources to help a company develop a plan to address COVID-19, including how to handle suspected or confirmed cases and ways to reduce potential spread.
- Training. Training associates by demonstrating the proper way to wear a mask and/or face shield, explaining the importance of maintaining a minimum of 6 feet distance between colleagues, and reinforcing the need to periodically use hand sanitizer or handwashing stations positioned throughout the facility should be completed. Like all other operational and safety training, periodic review of these policies with employees should occur.
- Temperature Checks. A process for checking and documenting the temperature of personnel each day when they enter the site (at the gate of a fenced in compound) or the building (at a designated entrance point) should be established and enforced. Acceptable, concerning, and unacceptable temperature ranges should be determined, and a plan of action developed accordingly. For example, any employee with a temperature reading at or below 99.4 degrees is cleared for entry; any employee with a reading between 99.5 and 100.3 degrees should wait 15 minutes and then retested. Any employee with a 100.4 degree or higher temperature should be sent home for a minimum of 72 hours and may need to self-quarantine for 14 days to ensure they do not develop COVID-19.
- Symptom Screening. Prior to entry into a facility, employees should be required to answer a series of questions on any new symptoms they may be experiencing since the previous day. These could include fever, chills, new cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, muscle or body aches, or loss of taste or smell. Additionally, employees should be asked if they have been exposed to anyone else with the symptoms or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, or if they themselves have tested positive for the virus. If yes, a company policy should address how long the employee should stay away from work (typically 72 hours). To save time and reduce exposure risks, these screenings can be handled electronically via apps that can be downloaded to an employee’s mobile device.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Masks and gloves should be made available to employees if they have forgotten to bring their own. Requirements for the use of such PPE should be posted in conspicuous locations throughout the operation.
- Cleaning and Sanitation. Make disposable wipes and cleaning solutions available to employees for cleaning of shared tools and surfaces before and after use. Personnel should be trained on both the proper procedure for cleaning a device, as well as the frequency of that cleaning. Some operations have elected to hire or assign designated staffers the sole task of wiping down surfaces throughout each shift to ensure the job is performed thoroughly and in a timely manner.
- Physical Barriers. Operations that cannot ensure a minimum of 6 feet distance between associates who work in close quarters can utilize clear plexiglass barriers on stands or suspended from a frame or ceiling. These barriers are positioned between workstations, for example, adding an extra layer of protection against viral transmission. Many facilities also use adhesive floor markings to indicate 6-foot spacing as a visual reminder to help associates maintain social distancing.
- Site Audit. There are a variety of independent consultants that offer on-site safety audits specific to COVID-19 practices and policies. Consider engaging a third-party to evaluate your operation’s plans and procedures to identify any areas that should be addressed or enhanced.
Looking for more information about the types of solutions DCS can implement in your operation that enhance worker safety? Connect with us.
Danny Krause, Manager of Safety and Quality, firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny Krause serves as the Manager of Safety and Quality of Designed Conveyor Systems and has 15+ years of experience in leadership roles with complex integrated conveyance systems for MHE, DC operations, and baggage handling operations. He is a forward-thinking safety specialist with a positive record managing crew, materials, and site activities. In his free time, he enjoys being on the water and spending time with his wife, daughter, and granddaughter.