In the Spring of 2020 the AMS Safety Team took on the greatest challenge to employee safety they had ever been presented with. Employees at the AMS Fulfillment Center were considered essential workers, asked to stay on the job and risk the threat of COVID exposure. The safety team worked triple speed to separate the workstations by six feet and install plexiglass shields. Shields were installed throughout the warehouses, in the lunchroom and classroom – everywhere needed.
AMS increased the number of bathrooms, hired a team to sanitize all surfaces throughout the day, placed stations where employees could wash and sterilize their hands, installed devices to check all incoming personnel for elevated body temperature, had custom face masks made for all employees and visitors – the safety team did everything they could.
AMS Safety Team was Exceptional!
The team’s efforts were so thorough, and safety was given such high priority that we decided to do a series of safety blogs as a guide to other warehouses. We did a series of 24 blogs, covering the various choices and changes AMS was making.
Marco Pelaez, VP of Operations, took one more exceptional step and arranged for vaccine clinics to be held on the AMS campus. Over a period of two years Marco held 14 clinics that administered vaccines to people from within AMS and the surrounding community. People received the vaccines at no cost, and they could bring their children, ages 12 and up. AMS employees and the community took strong advantage of these clinics.
Is the pandemic over?
Gradually we began to emerge from the pandemic. Over the past few months rules that AMS had in place on mask wearing, sanitizing and temperature taking have eased off in the warehouse. Knowing that 98% of AMS employees are fully vaccinated, Marco and the team followed the CDC guidelines carefully and started easing up the mask-wearing and the safety distancing. They have continued to follow the proper protocols when employees are sick with COVID-19.
Have we reached the end of the pandemic? A headline from Reuters.com states: “US to end COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11!” The article states that the current administration will end COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11, 2023. This means that COVID tests and vaccines are no longer going to be free of charge.
The article states, “The government has been paying for COVID-19 vaccines, some tests and certain treatments under the PHE declaration. When it expires, those costs will be transferred to private insurance and government health plans.” It ends with a warning, “COVID-19 cases are declining in the United States, though more than 500 people continue to die each day from the disease, government data showed.”
Remember to Protect Yourself and Others
This statement agrees with Marco, who offered the following. “Even though the government is lifting all restrictions, please keep in mind that the virus is going to stay around for a long time and, we need to be mindful about experiencing any symptoms of getting sick and act to protect ourselves and others at the workplace. We ask employees to wear a mask if any symptoms are present and feel free to remove the mask when well.
“Just remember to protect yourself first so you can protect others. And most importantly, if you test for COVID-19 and the test is positive, stay home and get well. If the test is negative, depending upon the severity of the symptoms, stay home or wear a mask to avoid getting other people sick.”
Thank You to the Safety Team
We asked Marco what it has been like, to protect essential employees during this very dangerous time. He stated, “Keeping employees safe during this pandemic has been a very stressful experience. We had to learn about this virus, not knowing how it behaves, and at the same time try to keep people feeling safe and secure at the workplace. We also had to learn about the CDC safety protocols and implement them at AMS. They were two long years of stress, tears and satisfaction.
“When we were able to bring the vaccination clinics to our workplace and see the employees’ response as they brought their friends, kids, and family members to our clinics it was a big win for AMS. We knew that we were providing our employees with the best protection against this virus.”
We would like to offer a very sincere THANK YOU to Marco and the entire safety team for being an example for other warehouses and businesses with essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.