The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it forevermore. The unforeseen challenges of COVID-19 have taken a significant toll on governments, businesses, and the people of the world and has changed how the world will interact moving forward.
At the forefront of the many challenges and changes ahead, “safety” for the people and food products that are manufactured, stored, distributed, and consumed on a daily basis will become critical.
Food grade warehouses and food-grade storage facilities during Covid-19, currently and moving forward, must ensure that they are operating using best goods manufacturing practices (GMP’S) set forth by the FDA, procedures, social distancing, and sanitization practices to help ensure that this step in the supply chain is “safe”.
As a food-grade warehouse, we would like to share with you some of the many policies and procedures that we are following and improving on that have helped us with our food storage safety in hopes that it may help other food-grade warehouses in keeping people safe; as we are all in this together.
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Warehouse Staff Social Distancing
As seen and implemented around the world, social distancing has been one of the most critical actions taken to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Bridgetown, we operate a very busy food-grade warehouse and we have followed suit in making warehouse staff social distancing a top priority. Yes, keeping your warehouse staff 6 feet apart as much as possible while working can be a difficult task, but we insist on it at our facility and it can be accomplished!
How did we do it? By implementing warehouse staff social distancing into our Food Warehouse Covid-19 “Best Practices”.
Food Warehouse Safety Best Practices during COVID-19
- If you only have 1 working shift daily, split that shift into two shifts and limit the number of people on the food-grade warehouse floor at any giving time.
- You must have a safety meeting with all of your staff to discuss what warehouse staff social distancing entails and have every staff member sign off that they attended the meeting before they can continue to work around others and food.
- Staff must maintain a 6-foot working distance at all times when possible.
- Staff are instructed at times to stop and wait for an area or specific location that is occupied to be cleared of another worker before finishing their task. Make sure your employees know that as a supervisor or manager, that you understand it will slow down their work process at times, but it better to be ‘safe’ than have COVID-19 spreading through the employees of the warehouse and possibly causing cross-contamination to the food being stored for eventual distribution to the public.
- Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn at all times.
- Supervisors and managers must constantly be monitoring the warehouse staff throughout the day.
Warehouse Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Making sure that your food storage facility is equipped with enough PPE equipment to ensure that all employees have access at any given time.
Here are some examples of warehouse safety best practices that we implemented:
- Face masks cloth and or paper are to be worn at all times. Cloth masks are to be taken home and washed nightly.
- Hand sanitizer at all desks, entries, and work areas.
- Nitrate disposable gloves to be worn at all times.
- We use an Electrostatic Sprayer to spray all equipment and warehouse desks down daily.
- We use hospital-grade cleaning solutions to ensure that there is no contamination to the food being stored.
Sanitation Schedules and Effective Hand Washing
When operating a food grade warehouse, it is mandated by the FDA and most state and local regulatory agencies that you clean once a day and maintain a daily cleaning log.
We moved to a three-time a day cleaning/disinfecting schedule where we wipe down every common surface, door handle, desks, and tables. We named 2 warehouse employees as leads on this task and bumped their pay to make sure that it is always done and the importance of their new duties.
One of the most effective things to stop the spread of COVID-19 in your warehouse is thorough hand washing. We are requiring that all employees wash their hands after leaving the warehouse floor to take breaks, lunch or bathroom breaks and are requiring them to wash their hands again before returning to the warehouse floor.
The FDA’s 4 factors for effective hand washing
- Friction- ample pressure and speed
- Soap or Detergent
- Temperature- under hot water for a minimum of 20 seconds
Safety Measures During COVID-19 Are A Must Moving Forward
As a food storage warehouse, we must all do our part and follow safety measures now and moving forward to help ensure the safety of our employees and the end consumer of the food products we store. We hope that some of the processes, procedures, and tips that we have implemented and shared with you, will help make all food storage facilities stronger in the fight against Covid-19.
If you’re in need of food warehousing, talk with us about how we’ll keep your food products safe.