Coping with Flu in the DC
(Boonton, NJ, July 23, 2009) When the H1N1 "swine flu" virus hit in late April, the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert level to five for the first time in its history.
And while a full scale, level six pandemic didn't happen, that doesn't mean it won't happen in the future, says Regina Phelps, principal of EMS Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in pandemic planning. In fact, many experts expect that once summer is over in North America, the H1N1 flu virus might make a comeback and turn into a full blown pandemic. That's why DC managers need to start preparing now.
In an article in the July issue of industry newsletter Distribution Center Management, Phelps discusses how a pandemic will impact DC operations. By far the biggest challenge confronting DC managers is that the most common advice for businesses to deal with pandemics is to develop telework policies that let employees work from home. But that advice just isn't applicable in the DC.
That doesn't mean you can't maintain efficiency even with a reduced workforce. In the article, Phelps recommends a wide-range of solutions including cross-training employees so that more than one person can do a job; teaching social distancing techniques to minimize close contact among people; providing employees with cleaning supplies to clean their own work areas, including steering wheels on trucks, knobs on forklifts, and any other equipment they touch on a regular basis.
These and other solutions will make a difference in the DC but the time to start planning is now.
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For more than 40 years, Distribution Group publications have helped distribution center and warehouse managers increase productivity, cut costs, and meet increasing customer demands. Distribution Group publishes Distribution Center Management newsletter, books and reports, and a free e-newsletter.