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Whether due to a global pandemic or just another flu season, illness can spread quickly through a warehouse if enough care and attention isn’t paid to containing it.

A lot of workers in all fields will try to stick with the old ‘tough it out’ mentality and come into work while sick. While this needs to be discouraged, there’s still preventative measures your team can – and should – take to keep your warehouse safe and healthy:


Raise awareness: The first step that needs to be taken during any period of intense illness is to make sure your workers are aware of the risks and made to be careful. Particularly if a fellow employee has been diagnosed with something contagious, your entire staff needs to be briefed on methods for staying healthy and reducing the spread of any illness throughout the rest of the warehouse. This can include enforcing stricter distancing between workers and requiring more frequent sanitization of shared surfaces and tools.


Required social distancing: Even if nobody has reported themselves as sick yet, you should still keep all of your workers a minimum of 6 feet apart when working during times of widespread illness. This may require a rearranging of your warehouse shelving, as well as usage of tools like gravity conveyors to help move product without coming into direct contact with other workers, but will do a lot to prevent the spread of illness.


Encourage hygiene: Outside of food storage, warehouses don’t tend to enforce the strictest hygiene standards, even if your employees are encouraged to wash their hands during their shifts. During times of increased contagions, set standards encouraging the sanitization of worker’s tools and areas of work, as well as increased personal hygiene as needed – and try to help them stay with these habits throughout the year, even if it isn’t cold and flu season.


Encourage time off: Few things can spread illness faster than a sick employee. Make sure your workers are all aware of your processes for handling days off for illness, no matter what they might be, and encourage them to use them. A lot of workers will either try to tough it out or not take time off out of fear of reprisals, so reminding your team that sick days are both welcome and encouraged will go a long way towards keeping sick employees where they belong – safely at home, recovering from illness.


Practice confidentiality: Above all else, confidentiality needs to be maintained when an employee reports an illness. Don’t give the names or specific diseases of anyone who has to take time off, as this violates their worker’s rights and can cause legal issues for your warehouse. In the event of something dangerous your employees need to be made aware of, such as COVID-19, make a general announcement advising caution without giving the specifics and revealing someone’s personal information.

And above all else, just remember to stay calm. No disease can last forever, and everyone will be healthy and back to normal soon enough!

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