Insights

COVID-19: Top social distancing tips for the workplace

A new alert system has been established to monitor the threat posed by Covid-19. As of 10th May 2020, the UK is at level 4 of the five-tier system, just below the “most critical” threat.

On May 10th, Boris Johnson suggested the country is now approaching towards level three on the alert system, and stated the following: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.” This is a major change to the current lockdown situation and will result in many employees across the country returning to work. However, there must be guidelines in place for a safe warehouse upon return.

So, following the advice and to ensure your safe return to work, here are our top social distancing tips to help encourage a Covid-19 free workplace.

Set clear self-isolation expectations

For employers, being clear on what actions you expect employees to take when exposed to Covid-19 is crucial. The NHS suggest you must self-isolate for 7 days should you develop symptoms of Covid-19, or 14 days if you live with someone showing symptoms. For more information on what to do after these periods, take a look at the Covid-19 advice given by the NHS.

Plan for new ways of working

There are various changes you can make within a warehouse to help enforce the 2-meter social distancing rule and contain the spread of Covid-19. Here are a few points to consider for your workplace.

Create workplace zones

  • Create workplace ‘zones’ to segregate colleagues. This will help with adherence to social distancing measures.

social distancing at work

  • Designate individual work zones for colleagues working in fixed locations. This can be done effectively by marking the floor where possible with social distancing floor marking tape.
  • If aisles can’t be dedicated to a single colleague, enforce a one-way traffic system with the directions clearly marked on the floor. This will help encourage safe distancing measures by ensuring colleagues don’t cross paths closely.
  • Assign picking zones to include specific shelving, racking, or block stack aisles.

Arrivals & End of shift

  • Reduce interaction between colleagues on arrival and when leaving work.
  • Stagger start times by a few minutes to stop crowding and mark the floor with tape for safe distance queues where necessary.
  • Where possible, work in staggered shift patterns.
  • Separate entrance / exit doors for colleagues to help encourage social distancing.
  • Introduce personal temperature checks at the entrance.
  • For extra hygiene, a hand sanitiser stand at the entrance of buildings is recommended.

Breaks

  • Extend breaks by 5 minutes to allow thorough hand washing before and after.
  • Stagger breaks to avoid busy toilets, doorways and the canteen.
  • Sanitising vending machines regularly or remove all together.
  • Disposable plates, cups and cutlery should be used where possible.
  • Canteen seats should be clearly marked to maintain social distancing.

Hygiene is key

It’s important to set hygiene expectations from day one. To ensure a Covid-19 free environment, you must go beyond basic cleaning tasks. Not only should hand sanitizer be readily available, colleagues should be provided and encouraged to wear disposable face masks and latex or vinyl gloves where necessary to avoid contamination. In short, PPE (personal protective equipment) must be used.

PPE Covid-19

On top of PPE, a clear and thorough cleaning schedule must be put in place for both the warehouse and office. This will ensure everything that requires cleaning in the warehouse is properly disinfected, helping contain the spread of Covid-19. For guidance from the Government, take a look at the advice given for cleaning during Covid-19.

To eliminate any harmful bacteria, a sanitisation team should be fully equipped to clean all contact points with a defined schedule of what to sanitise periodically. On top of this, colleagues must clean all equipment at the start and end of use. This could include:

  • All packaging machinery (tape dispensers, void fill machines, strapping machines, etc.)
  • Computer equipment (keyboards, mice, touchscreens)
  • Manual handling equipment (trolleys and sack trucks)
  • Warehouse tools (heat sealers, glue guns, staplers, etc.)

If you’re looking for a quick, easy and effective way to sanitise your warehouse equipment, Swiftpak’s anti-bacterial power spray is perfect. It contains 70% alcohol for best results, is effective against bacteria, yeast and viruses, and is fast acting and colourless. Simply spray the surface and leave for 30 seconds to dry. It’s that easy.

To view our full range of Covid-19 related products, download our free Covid-19 essentials brochure here. From face masks, to hand sanitiser and social distancing tape, we have everything you need to ensure a hygienic warehouse.

For official guidance from the Government around COVID-19, take a look at these documents on working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This advice includes useful information on what steps to take and why, with examples and a checklist to help track your improvements.

Download Covid-19 essentials brochure