As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect businesses, increased online orders and associated supply chain demand have created a difficult situation for warehouses and distribution centers. Not only do they need to ensure adequate staff and operating hours to fulfill higher demand, warehouses must also take into account the need for social and physical distancing, PPE, and other containment measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
With updated CDC recommendations for proper cleaning and disinfecting practices and a minimum required distance of 6 feet between workers, warehouses are searching for creative solutions that will help them thrive despite this current crisis and prepare for the future business climate.
According to the latest guide from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cleaning and disinfection of businesses and facilities takes a much higher priority than it did before COVID-19. Cleaning protocols should include scheduled, routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces such as countertops, tables, doorknobs and handles, light switches, keyboards, phones, sinks, and faucets. These surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected using an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill any germs and remove contaminants.
Follow the instructions on your disinfectant, as it may have special instructions or safety requirements. Wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting, as well as any other PPE recommended in the disinfectant instructions. When cleaning and disinfecting electronics, check the cleaning instructions, and consider purchasing wipeable covers to protect them from liquid exposure. Facilities that ship or store food are subject to different guidelines, and it’s important to check FDA guidelines as the crisis develops.
Warehouses and distribution centers are also reorganizing their shifts to ensure worker safety. According to leading commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, instead of overlapping shifts and close working proximity, organizations will benefit from creating separate, staggered shifts with workstations that are further apart. With enough space between shifts for sufficient cleaning of work surfaces, you can reduce the risk of virus transmission through both direct and secondary contact. Although this may result in fewer workers and reduced productivity per shift, this can be mitigated through extending operating hours.
To ensure the safety of all workers, many warehouses and distribution centers are using voluntary temperature checks, based on the evidence that an elevated temperature could indicate a COVID-19 infection. Keep in mind that temperature checks bring up medical privacy issues, and it is important to check with your HR department and legal counsel to ensure that you are in compliance with state and local regulations. As an alternative, you could hire a lab tech for each shift that is dedicated to ensuring all employees are healthy and maintaining proper health practices to prevent the spread of the virus.
While cleaning, staggered shifts, and health awareness will go a long way toward reducing the potential for COVID-19 infections, warehouses and distribution centers should also consider rearranging their equipment. To ensure adequate social distancing per CDC requirements, facilities will benefit from mobile workstations and mobile handheld computers, which will allow workers to operate freely within the facility while maintaining a safe distance from one another.
ACD Group’s mobile workstations and mobile handheld computers offer warehouse and distribution personnel the ability to move throughout the facility and bring their equipment with them. This reduces both the potential for risky interpersonal contact within 6 feet and the risk of cross-contamination of equipment. Workers can simply use the same equipment throughout their shift, and then they or a cleaning crew can clean and disinfect it for the next shift. Coupled with appropriate use of gloves, masks, shields, and sanitization, you can further minimize the potential for exposure.
The COVID-19 epidemic is unprecedented in today’s business world, so it is no surprise that there are many questions and frequent regulatory adjustments. As we learn more about the virus, governmental agencies are providing continuous updates. To stay up-to-date on the latest developments and best practices, use these sources:
At ACD Group, we are dedicated to providing consistent and pertinent information as the COVID crisis develops. To learn more about ways that our mobile workstations and mobile handheld computers can help your warehouse or distribution center comply with CDC, FDA, and OSHA recommendations, contact our experts today.