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Continuing your business safely:

COVID-19 considerations for wholesale and logistics businesses

Good risk management practices in protecting your people and your business will continue to be crucial as restrictions, regulations and guidance change, with each phase of the pandemic inevitably creating new and different challenges.

Where activities are either scaled up or scaled down there can be increased risk of:

  • fire / explosion
  • machinery / plant damage or breakdown
  • injury
  • water damage
These may be caused by a variety of factors including delayed maintenance cycles, frequent start up and shut down procedures, changes in procurement and human factors.

Your business operations and activities may continue to change; for example, handling and storing different products due to supply chain challenges,  keeping an increased level of stock, introducing different processes or procedures, changes in shift patterns and staffing etc. Where these changes introduce new hazards or exposures, risk management measures, should all be re- assessed  and  adapted. 

This  may include:

  • safe systems of work / working procedures
  • training
  • cleaning / disinfection / sanitisation
  • fire and security protection systems
Reviewing your existing plans and actions will continue to be critical and provide for a safe working structure in which you can continue to operate. 
If, however, you’re unable to maintain a safe working environment, then those operations should be postponed until corrective measures can be put in place.
The following provides a checklist of key considerations to safely continue your wholesale and logistics operations:

Observe and enforce COVID-19 workplace restrictions in line with government regulations and guidance, including those employees working offsite / at 3rd party premises and those relevant to:

  • travel to work
  • driving at work
  • welfare provision
  • cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation
  • social distancing
  • floor markings
  • digital rather than paper use
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • staggered working hours and breaks
  • ventilation

Information relating to testing and vaccinations can be found on our 

testing and vaccination page and further information can also be found via the above referenced government websites.

Continue to review your risk assessments and actions to ensure these remain relevant to the operation of your business and that you are taking all the appropriate measures to ensure a safe working environment (remember any employees working offsite, at home and at 3rd party premises, including those providing delivery services for example), including safe systems of work / working procedures.

Where your business operations and activities have changed, then new risk assessments should be completed and the results and consequent actions shared with your employees (including any temporary and agency personnel) and any visitors, contractors and other occupants or users where premises are shared.

The direct impact of COVID-19 and associated regulation and guidance will continue to be relevant to any decisions you make around the potential for transmission in the workplace, including those with symptoms not attending the workplace and isolating, ventilation, social distancing, enhanced cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation, hand washing and hygiene, the use of face coverings and testing.

You will also need to consider the associated impact of COVID-19 as part of your risk assessments and safe systems of work / working procedures:

  • Do you have employees out of the business or the potential for increased absenteeism that could leave you with skills and operational gaps? Do contingency plans address this issue?
  • Is there a need to upskill existing employees? If so, who does it, how do you confirm it’s been done and ensure that those upskilled are competent and understand their responsibilities?
  • Are all employees aware of safe systems of work and control measures identified through risk assessments for the tasks they are being asked to complete / or could be asked to complete?
  • Are arrangements for supervision adequate?
  • Is lone or isolated working accommodated? If it is, has an appropriate policy, risk assessments and safe systems of work been implemented, communicated and tested? Are arrangements in place for regular review? Further guidance can be found on our lone and mobile workers page.
  • Where absenteeism has the potential to increase workloads, has this been considered as part of the risk assessment process, ensuring that tasks can still be completed safely and without additional risks to the health and safety of employees or contractors for example?
  • Do risk assessments and safe systems of work consider maintenance activities in respect of your premises, machinery, plant and equipment and vehicles?
  • Machinery interventions (servicing, maintenance, setting and cleaning for example) present particular challenges, with supervision or arrangements for machinery isolation and lock-off (including guarding) often sighted to play a part in accidents and incidents. Are relevant employees and / or contractors therefore aware of all the arrangements for machinery isolation and lock-off? Further support can be found on our machinery guarding and intervention page.
  • Have emergency arrangements including response procedures been considered as part of the review process, including for example first aid and fire warden coverage? These should be periodically reviewed to verify they are up to date and ensure there is adequate coverage for assigned positions on all shifts. Further support can be found on emergency procedures

Additional support on this topic can also be found on our risk assessments and safe systems of work pages

Fire, security and COVID-19 specific precautions should be included in your review, implementing changes and / or enhancements where necessary to maintain an appropriate level of protection.

Specific considerations may include:

  • the adequacy of fire protection (such as sprinklers) and intruder alarm protection, CCTV, access control coverage and guarding provision; particularly relevant where there has been an increase or change in the goods being stored on the premises;
  • opening / closing procedures;
  • the adequacy of arrangements for social / physical distancing etc., including through work planning to avoid close working, reducing movement around the site, limiting the number of visitors (would a 'remote' visit / meeting be appropriate for example), managing breaks and welfare provision / use and the use of vehicles and plant / machinery / equipment, careful management of site meetings and training delivery, improved signage, physical barriers (if considered appropriate) and personal protective equipment provision and use;
  • removal / restriction of touch points where practical i.e. vending machines and other canteen equipment for general employee use
  • procedures and safe systems of work specific to machinery interventions such as cleaning, servicing, maintenance and repair
  • provision and maintenance of suitable ventilation
  • cleaning stations at entrance / exit points and other strategic locations with signage to remind customers and employees of the importance of washing hands and hygiene
  • where possible, schedule essential services and contractor visits to reduce interaction and overlap between people, for example, carrying out services at night
  • reduce frequency of deliveries, for example, by ordering larger quantities less often or larger stock deliveries in / out of storage premises
  • where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles, or using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed
  • providing clear guidance on social distancing, face coverings and hygiene, such as for inbound delivery drivers or safety critical visitors, on arrival, (e.g. signage, visual aids) and before arrival, (e.g. by phone, on your website or  email)
  • encouranging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this doesn’t compromise their safety and existing safe working practice, such as preventing drive-aways
  • considering the potential for non-contact goods deliveries
  • continuing to coordinate and cooperate with other occupiers if working in shared facilities 
  • IT and cyber security
  • on-going support (practical and wellbeing) for any employees who continue to work from home 
Further support can be found on our health & safety risk assessment, safe systems of workfire risk assessmentescape of water and cyber security pages. See also external guidance provided by the HSE and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).
Allow sufficient time in your planning to recommission and / or service plant that may have been dormant or operating at reduced capacity in line with all standard operating procedures (SOPs), manufacturer's guidelines and established planned preventative maintenance arrangements.

Ensure inspection, testing and maintenance procedures for your site(s), plant, machinery and equipment remain in place and up to date.
Specific considerations may for example include:

  • statutory requirements (e.g. air receivers and compressors, vehicle lifting equipment and forklift trucks)
  • utility services (both for the buildings and operational needs)
  • machinery guarding and interventions
  • adequacy / safety of storage racking
  • emissions control equipment
  • noise control equipment
  • process related safety equipment (relating to the prevention of fire / explosion for instance)
  • management of legionella related risks
  • pollutants control
  • other waste management plant, control equipment for hazardous substances etc.
  • emergency systems
  • vehicles
  • adequate ventilation
  • providing a clean work environment
  • access to suitable PPE and face coverings
  • fire protection and security systems, including fire sprinkler / suppression systems, fire pumps, water supplies, fire alarm systems, intruder alarm systems, CCTV, access control etc.
Further support can be found in our
equipment checklist and forklift truck pre-use checks pages and external guidance provided by the HSE.

Enhanced cleaning regimes introduced as part of the re-starting / re-opening process should be maintained. Areas for particular focus include high touch points. These will vary according to the nature of your premises and activities, but are likely to include washing facilities, toilet flush and seats, door handles, hand rails, office equipment, food preparation areas etc.

Include company vehicles, forklift trucks, pallet trucks etc. in your cleaning regime, and ensure cleaning is recorded and covers on-going expectations / requirements.

Remember hand sanitisers are flammable. As well as reviewing your fire risk assessments, to keep your premises and people safe, ensure storage and use is clear of ignition sources (for example, electrical equipment, hot surfaces, smoking areas etc.) and ideally store within purpose designed flammable liquid cabinets, otherwise, steel cabinets. Further support can be found on our storage and use of flammable / explosive materials page.

Insufficient arrangements for training or gaps in knowledge are key factors contributing to accidents during the pandemic. So, continue to ensure employees have the competence and capability for the work activities to be carried out including for new processes / machinery and plant (and that you have a sufficient number of competent employees for each task), through the necessary skills, training and licensing requirements.

This may involve the need for additional employee training programs and / or certification, instruction, information and supervision.

Remember that for returning employees and / or those with new or different roles, (re)familiarization, for site and plant for example, will be a key consideration.

Refer to your “return-to-work-policy” (where in place), as this will provide structure to ensuring your employees are ‘fit for work’, with mental health and well-being considered in addition to physical fitness. Mental health and well-being arising from anxiety about a return to work, or continued isolation due to working from home for example, require careful consideration. Further support can be found on our training page.

In reviewing the training arrangements and competency requirements, specific consideration should be given to the following:

Availability and responsibilities of key personnel

  • Senior managers
  • Human Resources and Health, Safety & Environmental personnel
  • Department managers / supervisors
  • Appropriately qualified technicians and plant / machinery operators
  • Maintenance personnel
  • First aiders
  • Fire marshals.

Formal induction / re-induction

  • Think about those who may have been away from the business for a period, role changes and upskilling and cross-skilling needs
  • Include specific expectations and controls relating to COVID-19 (social distancing measures, staggered start times, cleaning and sanitisation for example) and any amendment to rules
  • Continue to consider the specific requirements of any vulnerable workers (young persons, new and expectant mothers, any groups identified as being at risk of severe illness as a result of COVID-19 etc.)   

Other training needs

  • Expired tickets, certificates and interim measures
  • (Re)familiarisation of the site, plant and machinery in light of employee (including any contractors) role changes and upskilling / cross-skilling 

Training delivery

Expectations around social and physical distancing for example, are likely to continue to impact the practicalities of training delivery, including induction and toolbox talks. This should be considered as part of the risk assessment process, including available facilities, numbers that can be safely accommodated, duration, potential barriers to communication etc.

Further support can be found on our training page.

Ensure employees, customers and other partners (contractors for example) are kept informed of what's changed or changing, your key expectations and the measures maintained or being implemented so that they remain safe and protected. Think about:

  • What needs to be communicated and when?
  • Who do you need to communicate with - the audience?
  • What's the most effective method of communication likley to be?
  • How do you confirm and monitor understanding?

Keep your business continuity plan under review, including supply chain resilience (materials, machinery and equipment parts and components, including software where relevant) and implement mitigation measures as appropriate, to reflect any changes to your business operation and lessons learned during the pandemic. 

Visit our business continuity page for further support. 

The risk management information and guidance provided herein is not intended to be advice for any specific requirements.

Readers should seek further advice when dealing with their individual and particular situations. Allianz Insurance plc shall have no liability for any action taken as a result of and in reliance on the information contained in this document. The information contained in this document is correct at date of going to print and may be subject to change at any time.  All rights reserved