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H&S in Times of COVID-19: How To Unlock Full Compliance In Your Warehouse

By Andy Hall

Whether you’ve operated through the pandemic or recently reopened, preventing the spread of COVID-19 in your organisation is a critical safety challenge.

Andy Hall, Technical Manager and Team Leader at Southalls, reveals the five actions that should be top of your COVID-19 control list: 

  1. Review your risk assessments. With safety guidelines constantly evolving, it’s essential to carry out regular reviews of your risk assessments. Use the hierarchy of control as your cornerstone, aiming to first eliminate and then reduce routes of transmission – for example, with social distancing or the use of Perspex screens – rather than relying solely on PPE, which should always be your last resort. Consulting with employees is vital at this stage, both as a source of new safety ideas and to cement understanding of updated processes. Commit to communicating with your wider team too, including third party suppliers, temporary staff and cleaning contractors, who may need to visit more frequently to sanitise common contact points.
  2. Check the safety of your supply chain. Avoid a more serious conversation down the line by reaching out now to your approved contractors and suppliers. Confirm which COVID-19 precautions they have in place and whether they expect you to provide additional measures when they visit your site. An online safety management tool like Southalls’ bespoke Safety Cloud package accurately captures this information, making it simple to access and revisit agreements, outputs and amended protocols within a few clicks.
  3. Take a headcount of first aiders and fire marshals. If you have staff on furlough or working from home, you may be short of first aiders and fire marshals. Check provision across all your shifts and consider sharing first-aid resources with neighbouring businesses where appropriate.
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  4. Get to grips with goods in/goods out. Social distancing is pivotal to the safe management of goods in and goods out, including customer returns. Consider how to minimise contact during the returns process and where you might isolate stock for 72 hours before handling it. For deliveries and collections, we recommend marking out clear, separate points where couriers can remotely drop and load. For security reasons, aim to keep these areas in sight of staff, while still adhering to the 2-metre social distancing rule.
  5. Map out your response plan. Are you ready to react to a case of COVID-19? A response plan outlines exactly how to deal with viral exposure in your business – from supporting staff and isolating contaminated areas to arranging deep cleaning. To make tracing as effective as possible, record details of shift patterns, working partnerships and individuals in fixed teams. Research the process of reporting a COVID-19 case as an infectious disease in accordance with RIDDOR and nominate a person to liaise with your public health body – such as Public Health England – in the event of an outbreak (two or more cases in your workplace). 

Southalls provides flexible H&S services to suit your business, from ongoing Safety Plus managed consultancy to standalone COVID-19 Compliance Checks that ensure you’re covering all key requirements. Support includes either onsite visits or over-the-phone consultation to undertake gap analysis of your coronavirus safety programme, a detailed review of your existing risk assessments and a comprehensive compliance report. 

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Tags: Warehousing & Distribution, Coronavirus