The recent coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of chaos around the world. The COVID-19 outbreak is not only dangerous but also life-threatening if not dealt with carefully. For this reason, several companies have taken up coronavirus and employee precautions so that they can protect the well-being of their staff during this difficult time.
About the coronavirus
The WHO recently declared the coronavirus, or COVID-19, as a pandemic. The spread of the disease has crossed international borders and has become prevalent across all continents. Furthermore, the coronavirus is a disease that has a mortality rate ten times higher than the regular flu. The virus is particularly harmful to elderly people, as well as those who are immuno-compromised. One of the prevention methods we can adopt right now is to practice social distancing, and that’s why governments around the world have ordered nation-wide lockdowns, South Africa included. Such a lockdown would mean that people are forbidden from movement in public spaces, pushing several establishments to shut down.
How companies are handling the crisis
Several companies around the globe have decided to enforce work-from-home measures for all of their staff. Logistics companies, however, cannot do the same because of the nature of business undertaken by them. A lot of their work involves movement and transportation, something that has been completely shut down amidst this outbreak.
The coronavirus lockdown has particularly affected warehouse workers, as their job requires them to handle production, packaging and transportation, all of which are required when it comes to handling essential commodities.
The outbreak has also caused people to stock up on essentials out of fear that these commodities may soon run out, leaving them without any essential supplies. On the other hand, people are ordering commodities online so that they do not have to go to the supermarkets themselves, creating much-added pressure on these retail companies.
Amazon has decided to continue the regular scope of work for all of its warehouse employees – leaving them with no option but to go to work to continue their pay, even if it is at the cost of their health. In such times, it is important to bring out guidelines, as well as coronavirus and employee precautions to control the spread of the virus, while also taking into consideration the sacrifice put forth by these employees.
COVID-19 prevention methods in warehouses
Not many companies are aware of how to protect warehouse employees during this crisis. The first and foremost step that should be undertaken by establishments to mitigate the crisis is to put the health and safety of the employees on top. Employees should be thoroughly briefed regarding the COVID-19 situation and the different ways in which they can protect themselves.
Any employee who is not feeling well should immediately be told to stay at home. Furthermore, all employees must be regularly temperature-checked, and those with even slightly high temperatures must also be sent back home. As one of the most prominent symptoms of the coronavirus is a fever accompanied by a persistent cough, the supervisor at the facility must always be on the lookout for people exhibiting any of these symptoms.
Next, all of the people working in and around the warehouse facility must be given the right protective gear that will help them stay safe. This protective gear can include face masks, gloves, as well as hand-sanitizers. Managers must ensure that everyone disposes off their protective gear at the end of their shift and that they do not re-use any of the masks or gloves given to them.
Employees should be briefed about the importance of washing their hands, as well as how they must refrain from touching their eyes, nose and mouth, at any point of the day.
As social distancing is the need of the hour, supervisors must create coronavirus and employee precautions for ensuring that every employee works at least a few feet away from the next person to minimize any form of contact between employees. All staff must avoid gathering at crowded places and must maintain a reasonable distance from one another. Furthermore, contact in the form of handshakes or hugs should be strictly frowned upon during this time.
There will be times during the day when people gather at particular spaces such as the entrance, the canteen, or the coffee room. Supervisors must manage shifts in such a manner that the employees’ breaks are spread out throughout the day. This would ensure that only a handful of people are present in a particular spot at a given time.
When it comes to the facility in itself, the cleaning staff must ensure that the entire warehouse is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly multiple times a day. Employees would feel more responsible for their behaviour if their surroundings are kept clean at all times.
The company should pay special heed to those employees who live with elderly or immuno-compromised people. These employees should either be given leave with pay or should be able to carry out their work from the confines of their homes.
Companies who have employees working at this current time, risking their health and safety, should introduce the right measures to ensure the utmost care for every person involved. At a time like this, it is the responsibility of those in power to do their level best to minimize the spread of this contagious virus and to help the situation restore back to normal at the earliest.