Keeping your team genuinely COVID-19 safe means building best practice into every part of your operation, from revised daily procedures and staggered shift patterns to more frequent cleaning and staff communications.
Andy Hall, Technical Manager and Team Leader at Southalls, hares eight ways to elevate warehouse compliance, protect your people and add a new layer of confidence to your coronavirus control plan.
- Minimise manual handling. As a priority, review your manual handling assessments to reduce unnecessary contact with goods. The goal is to limit surface transmission risks, so identify where manual handling aids could eliminate the need to physically touch materials. Clearly communicate modified safety measures – and the rationale behind them – to your team and follow up regularly to confirm new processes are followed correctly. An online compliance management tool like Southall’s Safety Cloud software can smooth the transition by making current documents, policies and procedures accessible to everyone in a single web-based safety hub.
- Set up fixed working groups. Where manual handling of larger items can’t be avoided, consider splitting staff into fixed teams, partners or shift groups to ensure the same people work together on a daily basis. This approach restricts contact within your workforce and makes it easier to contain any positive COVID-19 cases. To support the NHS Test and Trace process, be sure to keep a temporary record of shift patterns for 21 days.
- Assign trucks to one person per shift. Where possible, designate pallet trucks and lift trucks to a single person for the duration of their shift. This alleviates the need to repeatedly wipe down contact points during working time and keeps drivers safely focused on the task at hand.
- Disinfect shared equipment. If you’re not able to allocate kit to individual workers, see to it that pallet trucks, lift trucks and other shared equipment are thoroughly sanitised after every use, during every shift. Train workers on key risks, common transmission routes and correct cleaning methods, and display clearly visible prompts to encourage everyone to do their part in hazard prevention.
- Supply sanitiser. Don’t rely on hand washing alone to keep germs at bay. Encourage good hygiene throughout the working day by setting up hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and exits to warehouses and close to shared equipment, such as computer workstations and lift truck charging points. Post signage reminding your team to wash their hands or apply sanitiser regularly.
- Put cleanliness on your prep list. Build updated best practice into your daily routines by adding the sanitising of contact points to pre-use checklists for lift trucks and other commonly used equipment.
- Use cleaning products properly. When diluting sanitiser, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and leave the product on contact points for the required amount of time before wiping it off. Similarly, take care to dispose of cleaning products responsibly and contact your supplier directly with any questions.
- Safely transfer goods. To avoid close proximity contact when passing items from one person to another, place them down on a surface, step away and adhere to 2-metre social distancing rules. For regular manual handling points, consider setting up specific handover stations, complete with hand sanitiser and hygiene reminders.