Posted on: May 27, 2020
Warehouses have always been busy working environments, with maintaining and correctly following health and safety protocols a constant challenge. Now with COVID-19 officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that challenge is more great than ever.
Here at Projected Image, we have been helping our clients make their warehouse space safer for years by providing projected safety signage. This means all signs can be clearly seen throughout the warehouse space, day or night and after years with no wear and tear. The other thing that we offer our clients is best-practice advice when it comes to signage. This includes being able to completely plan their warehouse space specifically based on their signage needs, safety and legal requirements.
If you’re a health and safety manager, warehouse manager or company director looking for expert advice when it comes to safely implementing social distancing in your warehouse then you have come to the right place. In this blog, we list our top tips to implement a social distancing strategy into a warehouse environment.
Plan (to scale) your exact warehouse layout
By drawing your existing warehouse layout to scale, you will be able to see clearly how much space you have and be able to visualise how your employees would need to work within that space.
Depending on your starting point, you may want to use this planning stage to completely reconfigure the placement of items and sections within the space to make it more conducive to social distancing.
Plan social distancing and movement systems into your layout
Once you have a layout that will work logically and efficiently for your business, begin to plan out how social distancing will work across the warehouse by deciding what signage you will need and where to make this easy to follow for employees. This might include one-way systems, floor markings, wall and floor signs and setting up dedicated PPE areas.
Factor in access to toilets, washrooms and breakout areas
To add to the complexity, you need to ensure that you plan routes to give employees access to break areas and toilet / washroom facilities while still maintaining social distancing. Depending on the number of people and toilet areas in your warehouse, you may also need some kind of rota or queuing system to make sure that social distancing is maintained within these areas as well as in the warehouse itself.
Undertake shift planning
Regardless of how slick your social distancing solutions are working within your warehouse, if too many people end up in any place at once then this would undermine your efforts. It may be worth taking the time to completely revise your shift patterns. Plan appropriately to the capacity of your business (perhaps now reduced somewhat), but this will ensure that the number of people in any place at a given time is manageable. This is also important to stop tens or hundreds of employees showing up at exactly the same time to start a shift. If this happens, then you also need to extend your social distancing measures beyond the warehouse and even into the car park.
Update your signage
Following social distancing guidelines becomes infinitely easier and more effective if there are physical reminders and markers that we can all follow. This is the case regardless of what job you do and at every level of the business.
We recommend that signs are displayed across the warehouse reminding workers to follow social distancing rules. Distancing ourselves is completely new and feels unnatural to all of us, particularly in the working environment where we have become used to closely sharing space without even thinking about it for our entire careers. This is why visual cues and reminders are so important as it takes just one individual to slip back into old habits and put others at risk.
Prepare a semi permanent or flexible permanent solution
It would seem social distancing will become a requirement for the foreseeable future. Because of this, we would suggest making social distancing protocols, layout and signage either a semi permanent or a permanent solution that can be flexible with the needs of your warehouse.
To breakdown several scenarios, this could include:
- Social distancing for the long-term (at varying distances depending on current guidelines)
- Temporary social distancing, but that could be turned off and on as we move between phases of the Government’s response plan
- Normality returns, but your warehouse should be prepared for social distancing in future.
All of the above scenarios require steps to be taken now to implement social distancing, but they also demonstrate that even if social distancing rules are relaxed or normality returns, a pandemic could return at any moment. Because of this and the risk that your business invests heavily in signage, it’s better to choose a more flexible approach to your signage, that allows you to turn distancing off or on, change the distances required easily or even display alternate messaging when and where appropriate.
Ultimately, a more flexible signage solution will allow you to plan for most eventualities without more and more costs adding up.
If you’re wondering how this can be achieved, consider using projected signage solutions. Unlike physical signs, projected signs allow you to change your signage and warehouse layout and one-way system signage easily. It also allows you to update your signage to be in-line with government regulations and guidelines at all times - perfect should you need to change distancing from two metres, to one metre, for example.
The benefits of using projected signage for social distancing in your warehouse include:
Flexible - can be easily changed if you need to rework the layout of your warehouse
Robust - high traffic areas can damage or tarnish physical signage, but projected signage will always appear clear and pristine
Cost-effective - should the rules change, you can reuse your projectors simply by changing the gobos to display different messaging. This way, your signage solution can last you for years to come.
To find out more about how projected signage can help you to implement social distancing within your warehouse, get in touch with our team of experts today.
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