In this era with the increased use of robotics and automated distribution systems, it can be tempting to overlook the importance of human resources in the warehouse industry. As world events continue to materialize in the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus, it is more important than ever to not only recognize the importance of warehouse workers, but how to promote health and safety in the workplace.
Recently, the coronavirus has taken the world on a wild pandemic ride, causing global economies to slow down, in often cases to a complete halt. Medical professionals worldwide are scrambling to help identify and contain the disease, as America has been hit especially hard with the infection. Many retailers have stepped up to fill the increasing demand of commonly sought items and supplies, as public demand for food, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, etc. are flying off shelves faster than stores can stock them. In that regard, supply chains have been burdened by the additional strain of demand, that does not fit with their normal logistics of moving and stocking product.
As companies continue to support both consumer and country during this unprecedented time of need, its more important than ever to ensure health and safety standards within the retail, warehouse, and distribution industries, to keep product moving and supply the critical demand in the market. To that end, we have complied a bulleted list of tips and best practices to help ensure the labor force on the front lines in warehouses are protected against the spread of disease.
1) Aside from the very real and disturbing threat the coronavirus brings to warehouse facilities, the CDC recommends to help protect your workforce by implementing and encouraging regular flu vaccinations for employees. The regular flu can spread through the labor force and cause disruptions in human resources that can be difficult to manage when paired with a decrease in overall warehouse efficiency.
2) Establish realistic and helpful sick leave policies that encourage employees to take the time off they need to recover from their illness. Unnecessarily rigid policies can cause workers to return to work faster than they should, and could still be contagious to spread illness, and take down other workers. Review your sick leave policy routinely to make sure it is providing the outcome for your organization to run its smoothest.
3) As part of your sick leave policy, follow the advice of doctors and other medical professionals when they recommend any employee should stay home if they are sick until a minimum of 24 hours after their fever has broken WITHOUT medication. Studies indicate that people are most contagious for the first 3 days they are sick with the flu, and the spread can be mitigated by following sound logic.
4) If an employee visibly becomes ill at work, they should be asked to go home. Since productivity is affected, and the chances of spreading the bug throughout the office are high, employees leave work as soon as possible.
5) Sick employees should be asked to go home. Employees who appear to have a flu symptoms upon arrival or become sick during the work day should be promptly separated from others and asked to go home.
6) Consider establishing policies to allow administrative warehouse employees to work remotely. Often times a worker’s physical presence is not necessary to do their job. In the social distancing atmosphere becoming more and more implemented as we fight the coronavirus pandemic, many companies are seeing the wisdom in branching out for remote support.
7) Employees who are caring for sick relatives or children at home should closely monitor themselves for the onset of symptoms, and notify their managers promptly if they become ill.
8) Encourage hygiene by providing sanitary items in your warehouse or workplace to help stop the spread of disease. Tissues, hand soap and sanitizers, gloves, masks, along with social distancing can help keep your labor force from getting sick.
As these are sound guidelines to help promote general health and safety in the warehouse, the introduction of the coronavirus places further emphasis on following a good system to help contain the infection. Employers should be encouraged to review their policies and closely align them with what leading medical professionals are saying about the virus in particular. For example, the rule of thumb on returning to work after a fever is treated differently than the common flu. For more information on the behavior and science behind the coronavirus, please refer to reliable resources such as the CDC for further guidance.
At Culver Equipment, we are continuing to work through these difficult times to support the warehouse industry with product, news, and professional experience to make sure organizations are running at peak efficiency. We are committed to promoting the health and safety of our employees, and assist in the industry as a whole to meet the demands in our country today.
For more information, please contact us at your convenience.