Warehouses play an important role during times of crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, but proceeding with business as usual puts warehouse workers in a vulnerable position. As you scramble to keep up with demand, here's how to ensure the health and safety of your employees.
Streamline Your Operations
The coronavirus lockdown has triggered an e-commerce boom and an increase in demand for many household products. Warehouse workers are struggling to keep up with the strain on the supply chain. This is a good opportunity to implement warehouse management software! As Camcode explains, warehouse management software will help you track and manage inventory and shipments to increase the efficiency of your operations. Software solutions can also automate tasks to save time and reduce the need for labor, keeping stress down, and preventing common warehouse accidents.
Encourage Good Personal Hygiene
Viruses can spread quickly in the confines of a warehouse work environment. Make sure your employees know how to protect themselves and reduce the spread of illness at work. Ensure all staff can wash their hands as soon as they enter the building — ideally after touching any doorknobs. Provide hand sanitizer throughout your warehouse and ask employees to use it liberally. Ensure face masks and disinfectant wipes are readily available. You should also discourage your employees from sharing tools such as packing tape or knives. However, if your staff uses shared equipment, make sure it is thoroughly sanitized after each use.
Send Sick Employees Home Immediately
You may also have to adapt your workplace sick policy during the pandemic. Urge any sick workers to stay home — no questions asked — and to avoid returning to work until they have completely recovered. If you notice any visibly ill workers, send them home immediately. Try to be flexible with your sick policy during this time and ensure that your workers don’t feel pressured to come in when they don’t feel well. The CDC recommends against requiring doctor’s notes for sick leave to avoid overwhelming health care workers with these requests.
Shift Administrative Positions to Remote Work
The best way to keep your employees safe is to keep them away from each other. Besides practicing social distancing in the warehouse, try shifting some of your employees to remote work. There’s a good chance that many of your administrative positions can be done from home! You may even want to keep these work-from-home policies for the long term. Research shows that employees that are able to work from home enjoy higher job satisfaction and morale, which can increase productivity and reduce turnover. For those positions that can’t be done from home, Cushman & Wakefield recommends enforcing social distancing by staggering work shifts and reconfiguring common areas.
Implement Other Safety Measures
Consider other safety strategies you can implement right now to protect your workers even after the pandemic is over. This is a good time to identify and manage any warehouse hazards, such as dangling cables, obstacles in walking paths, or cracks in the floor. Make sure products are stored properly and that your warehouse is kept clean and tidy. Ensure safety equipment, like hardhats and goggles, are being used properly. You may also want to update your employee training programs to ensure your staff knows how to avoid unsafe situations in the workplace.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the safety of your employees should be your top priority. Times like these serve as excellent reminders to revisit safety plans and adjust policies to better suit the changing threats that are present in the workplace. Take this opportunity to improve warehouse safety for your workers during the pandemic and beyond.