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Public warehouses have long been a backbone of the warehousing industry, helping businesses of all sizes to better manage their inventory, shipments, and on-hand stock.

However, due to their frequent access by large numbers of customers, it can be difficult to manage a public warehouse during COVID-19 and the related social distancing requirements that have been put into place lately. Warehouses of all types have been in increasingly high demand lately, and while even the most average warehouse has been struggling to keep up, public warehouses face an added challenge when it comes to managing the amount of people in the warehouse at one time.

 

Social Distancing & Traffic in Public Warehouses

While warehouse traffic management is always a concern, it goes double for public warehouses in these days of battling COVID-19. Public warehouses, true to their name, tend to serve as a storage facility for several different businesses and their products. As a result, they tend to see a lot of foot traffic from unrelated sources, or people that may not be in close proximity with one another that often. This can lead to an even greater risk of spreading illnesses such as COVID-19, as public warehouses have a greater degree of difficulty controlling contact between different people, even above and beyond the same set rotation of workers between different shifts.

 

As a result, public warehouses need to implement greater social distancing policies, especially in high-traffic areas where a large number of team members may be vying for the same space. This can be done through a careful combination of traffic management, increased screening at entry points, and funneling of where the workers can come in through.

  • As a start, all shelving should be properly spaced. Whatever warehouse shelving your public warehouse uses should be measured to see how much room is afforded to each aisle and each residents’ storage area. If the aisles are too cramped, or don’t easily allow for the CDC recommended social distance of 6 feet, it might be time to start moving some shelves farther out.
  • Next, make sure every storage area is properly marked off. While you can’t fully control everyone who needs to access their warehouse space, you can at least make sure the areas are delineated well enough to prevent any sort of contact between visitors and lower the risk of diseases being spread.
  • From there, you should use all the available space. Enforcing social distancing is going to take up a lot more space than you might expect, and this will require you to get a little creative with the locations of things like pallet racks and metal shelving. Place your shelves farther back against the wall as needed, make sure to leave aisle space for the shelves farthest away from the front of the warehouse, and use space-saving implements like warehouse mezzanines to create extra-distant floor space.
  • Create sanitation stations at any entrance, and at spaced-out distances throughout the shop floor, to help your visitors and workers get easier access to things like hand sanitizer and bleach wipes as needed.
  • Finally, limit entrances and exits to the warehouse. Create a temperature check area at the main entrance, and ensure all other doors are used as exits only to control the flow of traffic and make sure everyone is checked for health and consistency when they arrive in the warehouse. (And don’t be afraid to send people home if they show signs of illness or high temperature!)

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