Published August 5th, 2020
Warehouse Reopening During COVID-19
Warehouses are vital to the continuous operations of multiple businesses across different industries worldwide. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted businesses, warehouse operations were also negatively impacted. As businesses adapt to evolving situations during the pandemic, it is vital to be aware of current events and implement ways to keep warehouse workers safe from the threat of the coronavirus.
How to Protect Warehouse Employees from COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided a guidance for businesses and employers on how they can help protect employees from COVID-19. Warehouse workers and employers can benefit from the guidance before reopening or, in the case of other warehouses, while continuing warehouse operations. Here are some highlights of the CDC guidance.
It will benefit employers to maintain awareness of any new findings or recommendations from the government, particularly the CDC, in order to come up with precautionary measures against the pandemic. One precautionary measure is conducting a hazard assessment in the warehouse to identify COVID-19 risks and come up with controls that will eliminate or reduce the risk of employees catching COVID-19 while at work.
Implement New Controls in the Workplace
Once the risks are identified, implement administrative or engineering controls in the warehouse. An example of administrative control is to limit the total number of employees sharing a common work area through staggered break schedules. An example of engineering control is to have visual cues or markers that reinforce social distancing of 6 feet from all directions between employees. Wearing of masks can also help with controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Get Employee Buy-in
Implementing controls without employee buy-in can make mitigation difficult. “Communicate supportive workplace policies clearly, frequently, and via multiple methods” according to the CDC. Provide training for all employees with the intention to educate them on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and explain why the controls are implemented in the first place.
Employees that are aware of ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may find the value in practicing precautionary measures (such as wearing masks) while outside the workplace where they may potentially get exposed.
Monitor the Warehouse and COVID-19
There are warehouses in operation where there are reported deaths caused by confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is why, in order to better protect workers from COVID-19, it is important to continuously monitor government communication on any update regarding the pandemic. Also, watch out for trends in the workplace such as employee absenteeism and consider monitoring employee health. Being proactive in monitoring can greatly help your employees and your business while the pandemic is ongoing.
One way to monitor operations and compliance with safety measures put in place is by conducting regular inspections using best practice checklists. Here we have compiled a list of warehouse templates you can use to help reinforce safety measures in the warehouse to protect workers from COVID-19.
Please note that these checklists, while created with the latest best practices in mind, provide basic information only and are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.
Warehouse Reopening Checklists
COVID-19 Warehouse/Depot Check
Warehouse operators and facility managers can use this warehouse check template when conducting regular inspections of warehouses to help ensure that COVID-19 controls are being complied with in the workplace. Check if social distancing is followed and if proper hand hygiene is observed, among other precautionary measures.
Facilities Reopening Readiness Checklist
This facilities reopening readiness checklist can help warehouse operators and facility managers in reopening warehouses that had been temporarily shutdown or impacted by COVID-19. Use this template to conduct a hazard assessment while keeping COVID-19 risks in mind. Check if the facility is cleaned and disinfected using EPA-approved cleaning and disinfecting agents to help ensure the safety of the warehouse for workers.
Warehouse operators can use this general-use warehouse audit checklist for inspecting housekeeping, trip hazards, signages, testing and tagging, and PPE, among others. iAuditor inspection checklists can be edited to fit the needs of your warehouse.
Employee Temperature Log Sheet
Use this employee temperature log sheet to capture as many temperature readings as needed when checking the current temperature of warehouse employees. This temperature log sheet recognizes 100.3° F as the threshold and prompts a visual cue for 100.4° F and above temperature readings.
Legionella Risk Assessment Checklist
Use this Legionella risk assessment form to assess warehouses that were temporarily shut down. Capture cold and hot water temperatures and check if they are maintained properly. Check if the HVAC and water systems are clean and disinfected to avoid Legionella in the warehouse.