Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, AMS had a great safety record of only one lost time injury in two and a half years, and thankfully our safety record during the pandemic has been excellent. With 400+ employees in the organization, we have had very few individual cases, and we are confident that they did not arise from within the workplace.
When the pandemic was declared and the CDC released guidelines for business, we put the recommendations in place in our offices, gathering spaces and warehouses. From our experience, the risk to essential workers can be diminished greatly with the right action. We are pleased to offer this blog series as and example for others to utilize in creating a safe warehouse environment.
Personal Protective Equipment – PPE
For the past four months AMS has required facemasks and encouraged gloves. When the pandemic was first declared we had gloves and masks in stock, so early on we could provide PPE for anyone who requested it. Soon, when it became clear that masks should be strongly encouraged, it also became clear that getting more masks might be difficult. Gloves, on the other hand, were only recommended if the employee desired, as contact infection had become less of a concern. Frequent hand washing and glove replacement is still strongly encouraged at AMS.
Marco Pelaez, Vice President of Operations, describes the challenge:
Yes, with our purchasing department (Veronica Lopez) and myself googling for masks every day from 6:00 AM, we were able to purchase enough masks to keep our employees safe. Then we found a local T-shirt manufacturer who created 600 washable cloth masks with our AMS logo, and we also purchased about 600 bandanas for our employees. It was Veronica doing the majority of the work and searching. She has done an excellent job for AMS.
Carmen Kernek, Human Resources Director, offered her perspective:
We began requiring PPE/Masks, as well as checking everyone’s temperature (including outside vendors) in March and while it was new and some employees were skeptical, and did not want to wear them, they certainly have expressed how genuinely happy they are that we care enough about their safety, health and wellbeing to implement new and consistent safety measures. At this point, we now know this is the new norm for our environment, until a preventive treatment is created/tested and approved. We are all aware, here at AMS, that wearing the proper PPE is not an option, it’s a must to keep our AMS family safe and healthy.
Our next blog will be about implementing social distancing in the warehouse and installing protective barriers.