Your goods in/goods out process is pivotal to your productivity – but high-volume operations like distribution and despatch could raise your COVID-19 risks. Evolving government guidelines underline the critical importance of a clean workplace, social distancing and robust processes that cut infection dangers from common warehousing workflows.
Andy Hall, Technical Manager and Team Leader at Southalls, shares seven simple ways to reduce transmission hazards as goods enter and leave your site – and how to adapt procedures to protect staff and suppliers.
- Request supplier risk assessments. Now’s the time to contact your regular suppliers, couriers and hauliers to ask for copies of their risk assessments. To avoid ambiguity, discuss and accurately record the safety provisions they expect from you when their staff arrive onsite. An online safety management tool like Southalls’ Safety Cloud package provides a secure, reliable way to capture and track updated documents, processes and protocols.
- Use signage to support social distancing. Place clear signage and markings at the entrance of your site to encourage delivery drivers to phone ahead and announce their arrival. This avoids face-to-face contact, reduces traffic flow and allows you to direct drivers to designated unloading areas.
- Rethink driver welfare provision. You’re still required to provide welfare facilities for visitors but consider moving them closer to your entrance to prevent drivers walking across your site. Ensure visitor washrooms are included in the same frequent cleaning schedule as the rest of your premises and offer suitable hygiene measures, from handwashing and drying amenities to regular waste collection and adequate ventilation.
- Review your goods in/goods out set up. Your reworked, COVID-19-secure layout should include specific, plainly marked collection and drop off points, which could be as simple as pallets with allocated names or references. Make certain these areas remain in your employees’ line of sight but at least two metres away from the nearest workstation to adhere to social distancing rules.
- Set aside space for returned goods. To inhibit surface transmission risks from products entering your workplace, establish a secure isolation area to store materials for 72 hours after being returned by couriers or customers.
- Minimise paper handling. To keep contact to a minimum, take stock of your paper-based processes and look for opportunities to move things online – for example, emailing documents instead of handling despatch or delivery notes. If that’s not possible, try using your own purchase information to check the contents of deliveries, rather than passing paperwork from person to person.
- Display straightforward safety guidance for staff. Keep COVID-19 safety top of mind for employees by displaying easy-to-read signs and posters highlighting the rules of your site. Key themes should include new procedures, hand hygiene and social distancing.
Southalls warehousing sector experts deliver proven support through ongoing health and safety partnerships and standalone services, including our COVID-19 Compliance Check. Through either an onsite visit or phone consultation, an experienced specialist analyses gaps in your coronavirus control plan, reviews existing risk assessments and provides practical recommendations in a full follow-up report.