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Hygiene has become a more prominent issue than ever before across all customer-facing industries in light of the ongoing pandemic. In warehouses, this is particularly crucial, due to the sheer volume of products that travel into and out of these environments on a daily basis.
With this in mind, today we’ll be exploring a handful of key hygiene-related concerns for warehouse environments, with a view to working towards creating a spotless supply chain that puts hygiene and employee safety first.
Now more than ever, facility cleaning is essential, but with warehouse environments this can be one of the biggest challenges due to their physical size and setup, not to mention the potential impact general maintenance can have on workforce productivity.
To overcome these challenges, it’s important to introduce a clearly defined schedule for regular cleaning of the entire facility. The benefits are twofold. For one, with a designated cleaning time and process that occurs each day, the overall upkeep should be a less laborious task. Secondly, sticking to your outlined schedule will ensure there are no overlaps between cleaning rotas and warehouse workers that could impede productivity.
Whether you enlist the help of a professional cleaning service to carry out daily deep cleans or you delegate this responsibility to staff, having a strict cleaning regime will be a step in the right direction for maintaining a hygienic and healthy workplace.
With stock coming in and out of the warehouse from a variety of locations and being handled by multiple parties, it’s inevitable that crates and boxes will pick up dirt, dust and bacteria throughout the supply chain process. With data suggesting that viruses like COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days, you should look to bolster cleanliness in all areas, including your storage shelves.
Opting for state-of-the-art shelving units with hygienic antibacterial properties that are designed to prevent the build up of harmful germs and offer easy-clean surfaces will provide a practical and convenient defense against contaminants. The result is low maintenance storage shelves that can be quickly and easily disinfected as part of your daily cleaning ritual.
Productivity in busy environments like warehouses is key to streamlined operations and to enhance this aspect it pays to introduce a clear labeling system for quick at-a-glance item identification.
This is particularly important in the current climate, where social distancing measures may still need to be put in place, minimizing close contact between coworkers. With obvious labeling for specific sections and products, foot traffic can be managed more effectively with less time needed to locate items.
In addition, introducing a labeling system that uses hazard floor tapes to create single-way traffic flows and mark out 2 meter distancing rules may also prove invaluable in keeping staff vigilant when it comes to close contact with colleagues.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to be the last line of defense when it comes to managing health and safety in the workplace, and in high activity working environments like warehouse facilities, this plays a vital role in optimizing staff safety.
In most instances, staff will have their own individual PPE, but there may be situations where workers share use of certain safety equipment and machinery such as forklifts and trolleys on different shifts. To ensure there’s no cross-contamination, you should enforce best practice when it comes to using, storing and disposing of PPE and shared equipment. This should include providing antibacterial cleaning fluids to wipe down shared equipment, designated lockers for storing PPE, and allocated bins for safely disposing of single-use items such as gloves and facemasks.
As part of creating a holistic safety culture within your supply chain, you also need to educate and train staff on best practices. It isn’t enough to simply implement the above measures, as staff need to have a clear understanding of why these measures are important and how they can benefit them.
Training should be viewed as an ongoing process, particularly as health and safety guidelines are likely to change as the world adjusts to lockdown restrictions being lifted. This means keeping your staff well briefed on the latest updates and how they need to implement them will be fundamental to promoting a hygienic and safe warehouse environment long term.
There’s no doubt that successfully implementing strategies that promote warehouse hygiene has its challenges given the sheer size and nature of day-to-day operations. However, taking a strategic approach should make sure you’re well on your way to achieving a spotless supply chain for the future.
Tom Brialey is the Founder and Director of Action Storage, which adopts his philosophy that, in addition to the highest quality products, you must also provide the highest standard of service to your customers in order to succeed. That’s why it’s Tom’s mission to provide expert support 100% of the way.