Open communication will build trust with your employees and alleviate their concerns. Employees should fully understand all process changes, from sick leave policies to new cleaning procedures. Take a proactive approach by sharing new updates with employees through bulletins and huddles at the start of every shift.
CDC guidelines for social distancing recommend maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and avoiding groups. Review ‘high-risk’ processes that force employees into close contact with each other and consider how your employees interact with external visitors. This could include taping off designated lanes on the warehouse floor, as well as adjusting shift schedules to eliminate overlaps. Asking delivery drivers and visitors to not enter the warehouse is a simple way to minimize unnecessary external contact. Consider adequate spacing in common spaces like break rooms.
Use of Gloves and Face Masks
Social distancing guidelines, if implemented correctly, can go a long way to preventing exposure and spread of COVID-19. With the primary transmission vector of COVID-19 being respiratory droplets, gloves and face masks are recommended to protect people who are in close proximity to each other; in fact, many state governments are now mandating their use in public spaces and work spaces. If possible, secure a supply of disposable gloves and face masks that your employees can use, or ask them to bring gloves and a face covering from home to use in the warehouse.
Hygiene and Daily Cleaning
Employees should be encouraged to practice frequent handwashing, respiratory etiquette (i.e. covering a cough/sneeze with an elbow), and spend time cleaning their tools/work areas at the start of a shift. If there is equipment that must be shared in your facility, establish procedures to sanitize between uses. Janitorial services can play a key role as well; work with them to offset the times they are cleaning and consider asking them to clean more frequently if possible. Warehouses should also maintain a healthy stock of cleaning supplies and encourage frequent use.
Establishing New Procedures
When considering how to adjust operations, clear processes should be established and shared. There are many situations to consider, and all should have a plan of action. The CDC and OSHA have recommended steps to take to prepare your warehouse to defend against COVID-19. These procedures range from isolating affected areas if an employee is showing symptoms, to having a “check-in” process when employees arrive at the warehouse.