Operating a successful business can be tough at the best of times. Operating a successful business through a global pandemic however, has presented an entirely new set of challenges for both business owners and their staff.
Since March, much of the world has been forced into lockdown as a result of COVID-19. Many businesses, particularly those in the retail and hospitality industry, have been required by law to remain shut for unexpectedly long periods of time.
As lockdown rules relax across the world, stores and businesses are beginning to reopen. It's now more important than ever to ensure the safety of your workers as they slowly return to work.
We caught up with one of our customers, Andrew Porter Ltd, who spoke to us about how they implemented changes safely within their warehouse as well as best practice advice for those companies beginning to reopen.
Who are Andrew Porter Ltd?
Andrew Porter Ltd, Andrew Porter (UK) Ltd and Aport Global Laboratory Relocations have been operating as a logistics company in the North West of England for 40 years. With warehouse space covering 300,000 square feet, they undertake global fulfilment, storage, and logistics.
Their teams include warehouse operatives, dispatch teams, administrative staff and management, and drivers and crew, all of whom needed to figure in Covid-19 planning and revised risk assessments.
What measures are you taking currently?
APUK Ltd have remained open throughout the pandemic, carefully following government advice to quickly implement changes to ensure the company was able to operate safely and efficiently.
The increased demand for PPE saw the company become increasingly busy with fulfilment in particular, reconfiguring their open space to set out a fulfilment dispatch process taking into account social distancing measures.
In the early days of the pandemic their Laboratory Relocation team were moving equipment for the NHS free of charge, between hospitals, and it was vital to have a robust COVID-19 plan in place for this work from day one.
“There was never any question of us closing the business during lockdown; we are key workers and have clients who operate essential services, so we had to adapt very quickly to the new regime”, says Matt.
Matt Cocken is a transport manager at Andrew Porter Ltd. He told us of the measures the company has had to take to ensure the safety of their staff.
“We are fortunate to have the space to be able to make social distancing work for us. We immediately assessed our premises and processes considering the new risk of ‘virus transmission’."
Matt spoke about the warehouse safety measures which the company has taken, as there is much more to consider above providing masks and asking their staff to social distance.
“We were quickly able to move workstations at least 2 metres apart, apply floor markings, and create a ‘one way’ system. Whilst this new way of working is more space consuming, it is completely necessary.”
In addition to the warehouse safety measures the company risk assessment and COVID-19 plan includes new procedures for:
•Visitors coming on to site
•Use of and decontamination of vehicles (usually one allocated driver per van)
•Use of toilet, kitchen and other shared facilities
•Cleaning the site (twice daily)
•Team working (communication)
•Use of PPE
The advice from the authorities, initially, evolved very quickly and our plans needed to be adapted almost daily. We now find that a weekly review of our COVID-19 plan is sufficient.
Operating a seamless routine seems to be key in maintaining a healthy environment for your staff. Matt went on to explain how communication to staff was crucial.
“Two way communication with employees has been beneficial for everyone involved; Reassuring your staff that you are doing everything possible to create a safe working environment for them enables them to feel comfortable in the workplace.”
“Anyone who is able to work from home has done so, but it is important to ensure they are included in all communications so they remain part of the team. Listening to employees is just as important – they use the facilities and should have input on the most appropriate placement of cleaning stations or the type of face coverings to be purchased.”
What advice would you give to online sellers who are re-opening?
“Ensure that you have studied the most up to date government advice at source. If you have 5 or more employees you will already have a Health and Safety Policy in place with Risk Assessments for the various elements of your business.”
“Look at these sources rather than unsolicited advice via social media. Communicate with employees on a regular basis – we try to think on the basis that anyone ‘could’ be infected and therefore what steps must we take to prevent any transmission.”
“Fortunately our teams have remained safe and well throughout the pandemic. Our Covid-19 plan will continue to evolve in line with government advice as we navigate our way through these unusual times.”
If you would like to be part of the Seller Spotlight series, email firstname.lastname@example.org.