Warehouse Cleaning Challenges Post COVID-19

As the months-long “stay at home” order begins its initial rollback phase, businesses are preparing for the return to some sort of normalcy. Warehouse professionals will need to gear up for the return of employees and the ramp-up of moving inventory as customers begin to get back to work.

In this time of pandemic, one of the most comforting and important things that we have learned is that we are all giving our best effort to keep areas clean. It is important to reassure employees, customers and friends that you have not only taken the necessary precautions for cleaning and disinfecting, but you’ve gone above and beyond them. Adhering to state guidelines for cleanliness is the first step. After that, a common-sense cleaning plan with good employee communication for implementing it is in order. Empowering employees to use their good judgment and err on the side of conservative is also part of the successful commitment to clean.

Here are 10 tips for efficiently and safely keeping your warehouse space clean:

  1. Start with overall rules for employees, shippers, customers and vendors. The things everyone has to do in any work or social situation should be communicated again:
    • Social distancing
    • Masking
    • Self- monitoring for symptoms
    • Keep hands clean and away from face
    • Stay home when sick
  2. Encourage drivers and delivery persons who travel across state lines to follow the guidelines for truck and commercial transportation posted on the Maryland State website. This grid takes into consideration the spread of the virus through travel and shipping. It’s on the honor system for the most part, asking transportation employees to monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus if they traveled through or stopped briefly in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut – the tri-state area that was hardest hit with the virus.  Drivers should self-quarantine for 14 days if they had exposure to the virus for more than three minutes while in the tri-state area.
  3. Identify your cleaning crew. Don’t go it alone. While employees should each be responsible for their own workspaces, you should also have designated cleaning people who will complete task logs to make sure nothing is missed. Provide PPE for all of these people and encourage their use. There is so much touching in a fulfillment warehouse, some people may not even be aware of it! Post flyers to remind employees and crew to remain diligent in their cleaning.
  4. Use your usual cleaning routine – times 10. That means 10 times more frequently and 10 times stronger. Wipe down surfaces and disinfect high traffic areas three to four times a day. The more people exposed to a surface or site, the more you should clean it. Rest rooms also should be cleaned and sanitized several after each shift.
  5. Keep workstations clean daily with anti-bacterial solution. Wipe off the top germ-hoarders such as computer mouse, keyboard, computer screen, filing cabinets, cell phone and land line phone. Scrub these areas down a few times a week for good deep cleaning.
  6. Wipe down dusty areas both in the work area and in the storage areas. After sitting for three months with no movement, most of your inventory boxes will have a layer of dust on them. Wipe it carefully and keep your eye out for more boxes that come from the back.
  7. Make sure employees rinse and wash cups, glasses, utensils and food containers daily. Don’t let uneaten food sit around and cake to the plates. Wipe down break rooms, sinks, countertops and cabinets. Wipe employee tables and chairs.
  8. Clean warehouse machinery and shelving. This not only eliminates dust, it gets rid of any lingering bacteria.
  9. Clean and sanitize warehouse floors. Use your floor scrubber with extra disinfectant.
  10. Pay special attention to door frames, door knobs and handles. These should be sanitized regularly throughout the day.

In general, wash hands, wash hands, wash hands!

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