Now more than ever, material handling products and services are essential to the success of businesses both large and small, far and wide. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to recognize both the value of these products and services to the overall supply chain, as well as the crucial nature of their roles.
What’s considered essential in our area?
Many of the “stay at home” orders that have been issued are using federal guidelines provided by CISA, but some states and localities are using their own guidelines. The CISA guidelines, for example, are currently in place in our area of Tennessee. This means “essential” is defined at the state/local level, depending on where the business is located.
It’s critical to understand the difference between essential and nonessential for all businesses. In fact, in some areas, an official letter on company letterhead stating that you are essential is required by law if you will be traveling to and from work. This is required in case your employee is pulled over by law enforcement. You can find an official template to self-certify essential workers for travel here.
Service industries affected
So, what types of businesses fall under this category of essential? Almost all material handling dealers are considered essential because they are providing goods (material handling products) and services to the larger supply chain, which must be kept moving. When you think about the supply chain, think about all aspects — sourcing, manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, and transportation.
And, furthermore, many end users, like manufacturing plants, are critical sectors of the supply chain. Many of these facilities manufacture some sort of products, either components or finished goods. Or, they may provide a service, such as mining or gas drilling, electricity, etc. All of this falls under part of the US’s critical infrastructure. Other essential businesses fall under the warehousing sector, which includes distribution centers (DCs), that are needed to store and transport essential goods.
What helps essential businesses run smoother?
Though PPE is scarce, it is not essential for 24/7 use by all essential workers at all times. We continue to hear that this equipment should be reserved for those who are working on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic. This includes doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals, sanitation workers, those in the food industry, and so on. But, in many manufacturing plants, there are employees that need it for protection from harmful chemicals. If you’re not sure where your staff lands in the need for PPE, be sure to review OSHA’s standards for hazard protection.
Many operations are choosing to equip their workers with PPE as a protective measure, even though it may not be required for their specific job normally. As long as the worker is adhering to best practices and staying on top of his or her own health, work can still be very safe. No matter what industry anyone is in, currently working or not, he or she should practice social distancing, frequent and effective handwashing, and not hesitate to quarantine if ill.
Furthermore, additional precautions in facilities should be taken to protect material handling staff and your inventory. That is, facilities essential workers are using can benefit from warehouse safety solutions. Especially since the workforce is thinner, it’s even more important to safeguard employees from falling or insecure products and racks. It’s also important to protect products from damage and be able to access them quickly and efficiently.
If health and productivity best practices are upheld, it can help the entire supply chain run smoothly and keep us all moving.