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Whether it be the current fear of the coronavirus, or simple caution about cold and flu season, illness is a frequent concern in warehouses.

Even above and beyond the typical health risks you get when large numbers of people come together to get work done, warehouses actually bring with them an increased risk of illness through the shipments and packages they handle. Items coming in from overseas, returns being sent back from customers, shipments being touched by a number of hands at various points – it can all start to add up to create a pretty significant risk of illness for your warehouse staff.

Luckily, reducing the risk of sickness from shipments and item handling in your warehouse won’t require a major effort on your part. All you need is the right supplies and a little caution to keep your workers safe:


Encourage hygiene

Whether trying to avoid the coronavirus or just making sure you don’t sneeze on the person standing next to you on the conveyor line, practicing proper hygiene is critical for your entire staff. Go above and beyond to make sure your team is washing their hands when needed, and avoiding any direct contact with any items that may have been handled by a sick worker.


Practice caution in the loading areas

As incoming products can be one of the most common sources of illness among warehouse staff, extra caution must be taken for the shipping/receiving teams to make sure illness can be stopped at the source. Provide supplies like hand sanitizer and gloves when handling product during times of high illness. For their work areas, try to supplant their standard workstations with germ-resistant storage options like sterile plastic shelving or bacteria proof wire shelving to help further curb the spread of germs and viruses throughout the workplace.


Move items in a timely manner

A lot of respiratory illnesses, including the flu and the coronavirus, tend to travel via surfaces. If you feel like you’re dealing with products that may have come in from an area affected by illness, make sure to move it onto your most germ-free shelving as quickly as possible and wipe down any surfaces it may have come into contact with. (Try to avoid any storage tools that it may have lengthier contact with, such as conveyor belts, as the prolonged contact may lead to greater contamination later.)  This will help prevent the illness from gaining a foothold on any of your surfaces and spreading to your workers or other items.


Encourage sick days

At the end of the day, even after taking every precaution available in your warehouse, the fastest way to reduce the risk of illness is to make sure any sick employees take the day off. Encourage your team to use the most of their sick time to stay home and get better – it will be better for them, the rest of their department, and the warehouse as a whole in the long run.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can prevent any illnesses on your incoming shipments from spreading to the rest of your warehouse – or worse, your customers.

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