Safety is something we think about a lot here at Folding Guard (in fact, we have a whole Spotlight on Safety blog series!), and this year has brought us what often felt like an insurmountable number of safety challenges. So as the year draws to a close, it’s worth noting what lessons we’ve learned about safety in the workplace, whether they be temporary measures or new standard operating procedures.
Some safety practices will (hopefully) be temporary fixes until the COVID-19 virus is under control. Until that time, employees and employers, alike, must do their part to make workplaces safe and secure. Here are some temporary safety practices that can help create a safer workspace:
- Work “Bubbles” – We don’t mean physical bubbles. These function the way your social or family bubbles do. Ideally, managers should schedule shifts so that the same few people are always working together without any cross-contamination. Creating these smaller “work bubbles” decreases interaction between large groups of people, and lowers the risk of spread.
- Driver Cages as Crowd Control – Driver Cages are always important with regards to facility security and warehouse safety, but now more than ever they are invaluable in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Driver Cages can be used in the traditional sense: to give delivery drivers a safe place to wait while their trucks are loaded or unloaded without granting them access to the facility. This prevents them from risking their safety and that of your workers.
Now, however, there is an additional use for Facility Access Cages. They can be used to house your own employees during shift changes. If you are operating with the suggested “workplace bubbles”, you’ll want to keep employees separate during shift changes, but still give them somewhere safe and warm to wait while the changeover happens. The solution is your own Driver Cage. If your current cage is too small to allow for distancing, don’t worry! Folding Guard can make Facility Access Cages to meet any specification.
- Social Distancing Markers – Placing social distancing markers on the ground at work stations is a helpful way to remind workers to maintain distance from their co-workers. It’s easy to fall into muscle memory and move around a workstation normally when performing familiar tasks, so visual aids are useful reminders for workers who might otherwise be engrossed in their tasks and forget to distance themselves.
- Masks – This one really goes without saying, as masks (and other Personal Protective Equipment) are imperative in preventing the spread of COVID-19. If you have employees coming into work, they need to be wearing masks at all times. At the same time, if you expect employees to wear masks, you should also provide proper masks and PPE at all times.
- Plexiglass Dividers – If any office employees can’t work from home and are coming into work, they need to have either sufficient space around them (i.e. their own office or cubicle) or plexiglass dividers between their desk and the adjacent desks to prevent the spread of any droplets.
While a lot of safety measures currently in place at offices and warehouses are ideally temporary, we’ve learned a lot about safety this year that can be useful moving forward. Here are some safe work practices currently in use that should become standard operating procedure:
- Traffic Control Markers – In a warehouse setting, traffic control markers on the floor indicating the flow of traffic are a safety measure that make sense at any time. Currently, they’re used to prevent people from walking at one another or crowding too closely in the walkways and possibly spreading the virus, but in “normal” times, traffic control markers can prevent these foot traffic “pinch points” from becoming trip hazards, can stop collisions, or any other myriad of potential traffic jam related disasters.
- Frequent Sanitizing – The pandemic has made us all more aware of the surfaces we touch and of germs in general. Most facilities have upped their sanitizing practices considerably, and there’s no reason to stop this once “normalcy” is restored. Germs will always exist, even when the pandemic is over. There may not be a need to sanitize the facility multiple times a day, but having hand sanitizing stations located around the building, particularly near doorways, is always a good practice.
This year has certainly been a long one, but we’ve learned a lot because of it. Hopefully things will get better soon and return to the sense of normalcy we all crave. The best we can do for now is do our best as individuals to keep promoting safe habits at home and in the workplace.