To get any warehouse started back and operational at the near-full functioning capacity post the easing of lockdown regulations has been no easy feat. There are a variety of precautions and measures that need to be taken for a myriad of employees. And all these precautions vary from one set of job roles to the next. Added to that is the most important thing in these warehouses - the goods. Any warehouse contains a large volume of goods and they are all exposed surfaces that need to be disinfected to ensure the safety of all the employees and also the businesses and individuals receiving these goods.
Before reopening and even after, a daily disinfection and sanitation process is a must to ensure operations are executable. Not having a sanitation process in place could lead to heavy repercussions as a facility might have to be shut down if it is identified as a source of contamination. This would affect the warehouse in the present, but also its future business opportunities.
So as a result, what every warehouse must do is create a comprehensive checklist, thereby creating a process for sanitation and ensuring a protocol is in place for operations to resume and run as smoothly as possible. We share a few key elements that should form a part of every warehouse’s restart checklist.
1. Pre-start protocol
Before resumption of your daily businesses at a warehouse, you should get your facility management team in a few days early so they can oversee the complete deep cleanse of the warehouse. This includes areas like the washrooms, loading and unloading areas and all employee gathering areas. Ensure that all the critical supplies including water, cleaning products, disinfectants, disposable gloves, masks and sanitizers are in stock before the opening.
Plan the staggered reintegration of the workforce. This means planning how many and which employees get to come in on Day 1. Also, creating social distancing measures like clearly marked spaces with sufficient distance is crucial. Screening and maintaining temperature checks for all employees is also advisable.
To prevent the excessive gathering of employees in a single space, avoid townhalls and training. Also, introduce occupancy limits in areas that are cramped for space. This should be complemented with staggered break time for different groups and the removal of chairs from meeting rooms to avoid large gatherings. As far as possible, do more Skype/Zoom calls for necessary meetings.
3. HR protocol
Create a Team A and Team B concept that will help with the reduction of numbers present at the warehouse. All employee welfare meetings, workshops and townhalls must be put on hold and not conducted during this time. Punching in machines should be non-operational to avoid contact with common surfaces. Use the watchman to maintain attendance instead.
4. Elevator protocol
First and foremost, set a limit to the number of personnel allowed in lifts at any one given time. This will ensure that social distancing measures are maintained. Also, ensure that the rails and buttons in the elevator and waiting areas are sanitized every hour to prevent common surface exposure to the virus.
5. Factory Operations
Insist on frequent hand washing and allow only essential persons into the factory. Place restrictions on anyone who has traveled internationally recently and people traveling to work from red zones. Anyone who is needed for work and residing in a red zone will require proper local authority consent and documentation to be allowed back at work.
All vehicles should be decontaminated by spraying 1% Sodium Hypochlorite Solution before and after unloading the goods (using disinfectant pumps). Decontaminating the driver's cabin is a must as well. There should be a proper schedule in place for the loading and unloading of trucks at the docking area, which should be conducted one at a time. All drivers must follow social distancing protocol and movement should be restricted within the facility. Measurement of temperature for all drivers and helpers will ensure no truck reaches inside the premises with contaminated personnel.
Cafeterias should be well ventilated and audited for hygiene before reopening. The seating capacity of all cafeterias should be reduced by at least half, and a 2-meter distance should be maintained between tables. The employees should avoid sharing food and the cafeteria should not offer uncooked food for a while. It is also advisable that the lunchtime be increased by an hour to encourage a staggering use for meals. All utensils should be thoroughly washed and tables and chairs should be disinfected at least twice a day.
8. Transportation protocol
Avoiding traveling in groups is advised and in the case of carpooling, the number of people in a car should be half of the normal number. Those traveling using company cars should be provided with sanitizers and the driver should wear a mask at all times. Buses should be sanitized before and after travel and fixed drivers should be used for fixed specific groups to avoid mingling.
Commonly exposed surfaces and touchpoints like water taps, hand dying switches, spray nozzles, etc. must be cleaned after every 2 hours with 1% Sodium Chlorite Solution for a 1-minute contact time. Install at least one sensor-operated water tap to eliminate common touchpoints at all washroom facilities. All the used paper towels/tissue papers should be disposed of into a closed lid foot-operated dustbin. A housekeeping supervisor should be responsible for the overall hygiene of washroom facilities.
10. Mail and courier packages
Couriers and delivery personnel should not enter the warehouse building. If it is possible, they should collect and drop parcels at the entry point. Direct them to a place where they can drop packages that allow social distancing to be maintained. Determine if paperwork can be handled electronically rather than at the point of delivery. If signatures are required, develop procedures to maintain social distancing and avoid sharing pens. If the mail is handled from a common desktop, anyone in contact with it, or opening it, should wash their hands after each contact. Ensure packages are passed through a sanitation process where they are disinfected.