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Safety Precautions For Handling Packages During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted on : by : TekCore

With over 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, people have been utilizing online shopping now more than ever.

According to Statista, hygiene product purchases rose 25%, and household cleaning supplies jumped up to 21% since this pandemic arrived.

What is even more shocking, 42% of the US population have bought groceries online since COVID-19. That is double what it was in 2018.

Though this helps with complying with CDC social distancing regulations, what about the packages brought to your doorstep?

If you are concerned about your mailroom staff coming into contact with COVID-19 through package deliveries, then you need to implement proper safe handling measures for them to follow.

Safety Precautions

A recent study shows the coronavirus can survive on cardboard (the material most packages are made of) for up to 24 hours. This lengthy survival window significantly increases a package handler’s odds of becoming infected.

At the time of this article, ten Amazon warehouses have workers who tested positive for the virus. Were the workers infected through exposure to other infected workers or contact with contaminated packages?  There is no definitive answer.

This question leads to an important one you should be asking yourself. Are contaminated packages being delivered to you?  Most likely, they are. For this reason, you must take proper precautions to ensure your staff’s safety and protection.

  • Educate your staff.  The most important thing you can do is to educate your staff.  Provide clear guidelines identifying how staff responsibilities should be performed in a manner that is safe from contracting or spreading COVID-19. Give your team members written procedures documenting best practices and detailed steps they need to follow.  Make sure every employee follows your guidelines regarding social distancing, hand washing, and taking other protective measures.
  • Wear gloves and a mask when handling packages. Provide your staff with protective masks and gloves to wear when handling packages delivered the same day. Remember 24-hour risk.
  • Leave packages outside as long as possible.  If parcels are dropped off at your campus in an outdoor area safe from theft and inclement weather, leave them there until it is absolutely necessary to relocate them. The sun and air help dry out the virus on packages, significantly shortening the virus’s life span.
  • Bring packages inside in stages.  When bringing packages inside, if possible, do not take them directly to common storage areas.  This delay will prevent newly arrived packages from coming in contact with and contaminating packages currently free of the virus.
  • Disinfect packages.  You can take an extra step and use a disinfectant spray on arriving packages. Or, you can use disinfecting wipes or a damp paper towel moistened with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
  • Disinfect shared equipment regularly.  Wipe down and disinfect shared equipment regularly used by your staff.  Examples include pens, clipboards, computer keyboards and mice, barcode scanners, and any device running package logging software.
  • Maintain accountability for packages.  Use our package tracking software for keeping a complete chain-of-custody of all handling for any package.  TekTrack keeps track of physical locations, staff, and recipients that packages come in contact with.  If there is a coronavirus outbreak at your campus, you can use your package tracking history to trace common touchpoints.

Conclusion

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the probability of becoming infected from package handling is low. However, it does not mean it is impossible.

It’s a new world. Whether you have been an avid online shopper before COVID-19 or have recently adapted, handing packages safely is essential to ensure optimal health during this time and well beyond.

To learn how our TekTrack package tracking system can help during this pandemic, contact us by phone or e-mail.  If you would like a high-level overview of TekTrack, visit our TekTrack Package Tracking software page.

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