Let’s examine each of the seven warehouse processes in turn and describe the measures that can be implemented at each stage to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
1) Receipt of merchandise.
Scientists are still unsure whether Coronavirus can spread through packages, especially those shipped over a period of days. However, one study found that the new Coronavirus was detectable for up to 24 hours in cardboard and for two to three days in plastic and stainless steel. Despite this, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). USA They say that the virus is not typically transmitted by touching a surface. Although he does not offer advice on disinfecting packages, he emphasizes the need to wash hands frequently and maintain physical distance.
Practical safeguards: Make sure that all workers use hand sanitizers and gloves, which must be readily available and emphasize the importance of physical distance. Workers should not touch their faces after handling a package and should throw away gloves and wash their hands afterward.
2) Positioning on location
All equipment used in the storage process, be it forklift and pallet truck controls, scanners or even pens used for manual entries, should be considered vulnerable.
Practical guarantees: continuously disinfect all surfaces. The CDC says that household bleach, solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, and household disinfectants recommended by your country’s authorities should be effective. Any handling of the package must be carried out according to the previous point (1).
Selection is resource intensive and can involve up to 60 percent of warehouse personnel. According to the CDC, the virus is spread mainly from person to person, especially through respiratory drops produced when an infected person coughs and sneezes.
Practical guarantees: it is essential that strict hygiene and physical distance rules are maintained, two meters away, in this section. Workers must use disinfectants and wash their hands frequently. The equipment must be disinfected before and after each use.
4) Packing, prepared to order
Packaging is perhaps the most important section of the warehouse when it comes to the need to enforce the highest standards of hygiene, as containers need to be cleaned and prepared for packaging. Parcels must be moved, stacked, and packed.
Practical guarantees: package handling must be carried out according to n. # 1 above, and containers should be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectants. Staff should regularly use disinfectants and wash their hands.
This work is usually done by a small team focused on data entry, telephone communication, and documentation.
Practical guarantees: personnel must maintain physical distance, continuously disinfect all equipment, and observe strict hygiene protocols. If your company is engaged in delivering last mile packages in plastic bags or envelopes, it may make sense to spray and clean each package with disinfectant before loading them into delivery vehicles.
Products returned by customers should be handled with special care upon arrival at warehouses, as they may have been touched by many hands.
Practical guarantees: people handling returned products should wear gloves and, if necessary, disinfect the item before sending it back to the packaging. They should throw away the gloves and then wash their hands well.
7) Added value
Package preparation and bundling require resources, and if you’re trying to minimize the number of staff members needed in the warehouse on a day-to-day basis, this is one area you could possibly cut down on.
Practical guarantees: make sure that the people involved in the value-added process follow the hygiene protocols described above. Disinfect packaged and equipped items if delivery is imminent.
The best plan before COVID19: Implement warehouse processes, keep commercial facilities clean and regulate the health of workers
Healthcare workers stress the importance of maintaining routine procedures to keep commercial facilities clean and virus free. This requires sufficient hours, monitoring, incentives and supplies.
Most importantly: regularly monitor the health of your workers.
If a warehouse worker shows symptoms of a mild cough and / or cough, medical advice is that they should stay home for at least seven days. A current best practice is to check each employee’s temperature with a non-contact digital thermometer before allowing them to set foot in the warehouse. More temperature controls are also recommended before employees leave work. Anyone whose temperature indicates fever should be sent home immediately and instructed to follow appropriate sick leave protocols. If a worker tests positive for COVID-19, it is best to consult with local health authorities about the best way to deal with the situation. In the meantime, if it’s still possible at this time of lockouts and quarantines, try to keep your warehouses open and your supply chain running. But be sure to follow hygiene protocols to the letter!