Building the Right Processes to Protect Your Warehouse Team
Earlier this week, we shared how many third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses plan to not only weather the coronavirus storm, but actually emerge stronger and more resilient. As a follow-up to that strategic business planning discussion, we wanted to share how many of our 3PL Warehouse Manager WMS customers have also tackled keeping their team healthy in a COVID-19 world.
While many 3PLs have already built out robust health and safety programs for their warehouses, many have also expressed “caution fatigue”. This occurs when initially they operated in a very strict environment but have relaxed safety precautions as time has continued. As talk of the second wave of the virus and the fears of exponential spread emerge, it’s a good time to review your safety checklist and reinforce policies accordingly.
At the end of June, 3PL Central met with our Customer Advisory Board who shared some of the best practices they use to keep their 3PL warehouses safe and healthy every day, including:
- Take staff’s temperatures at the start of shifts. While this won’t ensure that someone isn’t asymptomatic, it can reduce the chance that someone with an active infection enters the building and causing further outbreak. While they have their temperature taken, ask if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms before they enter the building.
- Ensure team members wear masks. Even with social distancing in place, wearing a mask can dramatically reduce the spread should an infected individual enter the workplace.
- Enforce social distancing. In many 3PL warehouses, active spaces can get congested, so some 3PLs recommended taping off workspaces and making aisles one way to better support social distancing.
- Review your labor schedules and shifts. As many 3PLs have seen increased ecommerce order volume, some have moved to three shift schedule to reduce the number of employees in the warehouse at any given time, but to still ensure coverage to address heightened ecommerce fulfillment requirements.
- Limit time spent at the dock with carriers and restrict delivery team’s entry into the building. When receiving inventory into the warehouse, consider how to limit contact between the driver and your warehouse team. Pre-schedule deliveries with a dock scheduling tool like SmartDock and receive against advanced shipping notices (ASN) to enable contactless receipts. Many 3PLs have also restricted drivers from entering their warehouse for additional precaution.
- Consider limited or restricted personal use for scanners and computer terminals. If you are using mobile barcode scanning like SmartScan, assign a single device to an individual if resources allow. Ensure cleaning protocols for the device before the following shift starts in case the device requires multiple users.
- Make cleaning materials readily available and clearly display reminders to the team about hand washing and using disinfectant. Consider installing contactless hand sanitizer stations and clearly identifying cleaning stations accessible to all staff.
- Consider mandatory stop times for cleaning. Some 3PLs have mandated multiple cleaning breaks per day, where the warehouse team takes a 15-minute break to clean all frequently used areas and surfaces. Best practices shared by customers quote up to three 15-minute cleaning sessions per 8-hour shift.
- Consider an advanced contract with cleaners should an employee on site become sick. If you already have a cleaner ready to go, if you have an incident, you will minimize downtime and cleaning time.
While not all the recommendations work for every warehouse, think about which processes and recommendations can best protect your warehouse team’s health, and in return protect the health and safety of your business. For a link to additional resources to help you through the COVID-19 crisis, please COVID-19 3PL Resources, Toolkits, & Solutions
To learn more about our warehouse management system (WMS), 3PL Warehouse Manager, or to learn more about how to keep your warehouse running safely and efficiently, COVID-19 3PL Resources, Toolkits, & Solutions
Written by Rachel Trindade
A modern marketer with a passion for blending analytics and creativity, Rachel helps companies grow their talent and prepare for the future. With more than 20 years of experience across Marketing, Product Management, Customer Success and Field Operations, she offers a unique and balanced vision to the business. As Chief Marketing Officer at 3PL Central, Rachel's responsible for strategic planning and execution of all marketing and go-to-market efforts.