Workplace health and safety is taking on new meaning in the era of Covid-19, and material handling companies are stepping up to the plate with services that can help protect warehouse workers already on the job as well as those getting back to business as the country re-opens.
Greenville, N.C.-based Hyster-Yale Group offers a pointed example with its Hy-Shield Clean program, being unveiled today in conjunction with National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD). Developed in partnership with its dealer network, Hy-Shield Clean is a lift truck sanitization program designed to help keep personnel safe during all aspects of forklift activity, including daily operation and service calls, the company said.
“The HY-Shield Clean program is part of our ongoing effort to address the unprecedented challenges facing our customers and to help keep their operations moving,” Pat DeSutter, vice president, fleet service and aftermarket for Hyster-Yale Group, said in a statement today. “We’re committed to staying informed and working in close collaboration with our dealer network to uphold best practices for sanitization as we provide customers with essential services.”
The program combines corporate and dealer expertise with best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address lift truck service and operation, company leaders said. It also identifies the most common touchpoints for each lift truck product class, allowing for tailored recommendations according to equipment type.
The program guides Hyster and Yale dealers through a range of offerings for effective sanitization before, during, and after each service call or shift, the company also said. Offerings cover everything from standalone deep cleaning to equipping technicians and lift truck operators with sanitization supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves—all sourced to support compliance with CDC guidelines.
“Our goal from the beginning was to lead the way with proactive measures to help our customers adapt to fast-changing conditions,” added Craig Brubaker, senior vice president, operations for Alta Equipment, a dealer for both Hyster and Yale products and services. “Now that economies are re-opening, we can apply those lessons learned to help supply chains address urgent service tasks that were put on hold due to the pandemic and manage sanitization in daily lift truck operations.”
Other material handling companies are sharpening their focus on health and safety in light of coronavirus as well. Also in conjunction with NFSD, Columbus, Indiana-based Forklift maker Toyota Material Handling (TMH) said this week that dealers across its network have implemented practical social distancing and cleaning protocols since the height of pandemic—including disinfecting equipment regularly, strict employee handwashing requirements, six-foot distancing throughout facilities, and employee self-monitoring of Covid-19 symptoms—and are heightening other services as well. Additional offerings include after-hours service, outdoor parking lot service, free cartage to service locations, and remote diagnostics and equipment monitoring to help reduce the spread of the virus.
“[Safety] remains our number one priority, and National Forklift Safety Day reinforces its importance and shares that message every year,” said Jeff Rufener, TMH president and CEO. “Many of the risks we’re used to dealing with can be anticipated or avoided when proper precaution is taken. We’re tackling Covid-19 using that same approach; implementing innovative solutions that protect us from the risks we can’t see.”
TMH dealers will offer no-cost forklift site consultations for customers across the United States and Canada during NFSD, the company also said
California-based battery maker Flux Power is emphasizing warehouse and equipment safety as well, offering a checklist of “top tips” that include long-held best practices and coronavirus-related measures. In addition to keeping areas clean and organized throughout the warehouse, regularly inspecting and maintaining equipment, and providing safety training, the company also points to the need for PPE, optimized warehouse layouts, and constant communication as keys to keeping workers safe and healthy.
“Personal protective equipment should be tailored to your warehouse conditions and may include safety vests, steel toe boots, and hardhats,” Flux Power spokesman Justin Forbes wrote in a blog post promoting warehouse safety. “PPE required in warehouses has changed recently, and may include surgical style or N95 masks, gloves, and safety goggles to reduce risk of contagious disease spread.”
Communication and ongoing training have taken on greater importance as well, he said.
“Expect to roll out new safety standards in response to both internal and external changes—such as new equipment acquisition and environmental factors, respectively,” Forbes wrote.
For more coverage of the coronavirus crisis and how it's affecting the logistics industry, check out our Covid-19 landing page. And click here for our compilation of virus-focused websites and resource pages from around the supply chain sector.