COVID-19 best practices for material handling operations

social distancing

During the COVID-19 crisis, here are some operational best practices for material handling companies to employ.

These tips have been aggregated from a variety of sources including an advisory from our friends at St Onge, CDC recommendations, the mhlnews.com and other resources shared with us.

  1. Check each person’s temperature with an infrared thermometer as they enter a company building. This is to check for fever.
  2. Direct non-operations staff to work from home. Use virtual conferencing, VPN, and other remote worker technology where appropriate.
  3. Provide face masks for use in areas where staff may have closer proximity than is optimal.
  4. Limit meeting sizes. Where possible use Zoom, Skype, Go To Meeting, or similar virtual conferencing when possible, even if all business gatherings are in the building.
  5. Limit the size of “start of shift” meetings and maintain social distancing during these gatherings.  Arrange six-foot minimum spacing for seating.
  6. Reorganize break room seating to increase social distancing.  Ensure adequate space around microwaves and vending machines to allow for spacing of 6 feet between people using these items.
  7. Install more hand sanitizer dispensers to allow for additional and easier access to employees.
  8. Engage additional and enhanced cleaning services to ensure deep cleaning of all company facilities, especially for places where people are frequent or gather, like bathrooms or breakrooms.
  9. Discontinue or limit unnecessary visitor access to company facilities.
  10. Create additional temporary spaces for employees to use for breaks or lunch. This allows staff to increase social distancing.
  11. Maintain separate areas for truck drivers and house staff.   Ensure truck driver lounges and similar front-line employees can rest separately from employee areas.
  12. Consider splitting shifts in a warehouse to create less employee density in the facility.
  13. Sanitize shared equipment between shifts, and if possible assign a one to one relationship between personnel and equipment.
  14. Maintain social distancing recommendations in all areas of company facilities. Assign every other kit station or every other pack station.  Be mindful of the process at the put wall or in the pick aisles where it is most difficult to practice social distancing.
  15. If staff reduction is necessary, consider adjust staff schedules to one week on, and one week off, or every other day, to reduce the number of staff on company premises. Where possible, allow employees to maintain their health insurance until after the policy ends.

These tips were created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic but could be used as pandemic best practices to mitigate any future coronavirus variant or infectious disease outbreak.