Holiday Shipping Safety: Distributor Responsibilities

Holiday Shipping Safety: Distributor Responsibilities

It’s no secret that the holiday season can present unforeseen challenges for all types of industries but especially the freight and logistics industry.

Shipping companies have their work cut out for them during the 2021 holiday season — the novel coronavirus is ongoing, e-commerce is booming and the shipping industry is facing supply chain disruptions. These are unprecedented times for distributors looking to deliver high volumes of products to their clients. Managers of warehouses and fulfillment centers need to keep employee safety in mind as the holidays approach. Distributors will have unique responsibilities this year, as COVID-19 will be top of mind for just about everyone.

Below are some reasons why this holiday season will be quite chaotic and some of the responsibilities distributors should be expected to manage.

Anticipating a Chaotic 2021 Holiday Season

There’s evidence to suggest that supply chain issues, the COVID-19 pandemic and increased customer demand will all contribute to a chaotic holiday season in 2021. And now, with the omicron variant taking hold, reaching the end of the pandemic seems farther away. Much of this is out of a distributor’s control. Still, they will need to be diligent in managing internal processes to be successful and deliver products efficiently. 2020 proved to be tumultuous for logistics teams worldwide, and the 2021 holidays will likely be the same.

The holiday rush will likely extend into the new year, as it will take some time for supply chain disruptions to be resolved. Additionally, distributors need to consider the impact of shipping dangerous goods. Research shows that the U.S. ships more than three billion tons of dangerous materials each year. This is only one example of the importance of distributors being responsible during the holiday season.

Distributor Safety Responsibilities

This Holiday Season Safety should always be a top priority for all types of businesses, but especially the shipping industry. With quicker turnaround times, staff shortages and increased road congestion, it’s no wonder why there have been more injuries. Preventing these injuries and keeping employees safe and working is crucial during this time. Below are some of the safety responsibilities distributors will have to consider during this critical sales period.

  1. COVID-19 Training Requirements. Those who manage distribution centers should look at their safety program and ensure COVID-19 training is in place for employees. There tends to be a spike in the number of seasonal employees during this time of the year. Rather than leave these new employees to fend for themselves, they must receive adequate training about COVID-19 safety. They must also encourage employees to wash their hands frequently, social distance and wear masks while working. This will reduce the chances of employee exposure to the virus and will keep everyone safe.
  2. Implementing Automation Where Possible. Automation is transforming most industries for the better, and distribution centers, warehouses and fulfillment centers are no exception. Using robotics to pick and pack orders is more efficient and can keep workers safe.

Consider using some of these pieces of tech for a successful holiday season:

  • Workforce management software (WMS)
  • Order management software
  • Automated order processing
  • E-commerce shipping technologies

Using emerging technologies to improve efficiency in the distribution industry is crucial.

3. Ensuring Employee Well-Being. The pandemic forced many people to reflect and consider the negative effects of burnout. Burnout is real, and employees in this industry need to ensure they take care of themselves before arriving at work. For example, a truck driver with a long route needs to be well-rested and at the top of his/her game. The physical and mental well-being of employees working in the shipping industry should be a major priority for those that manage them.

4. Prioritize Reaching Destinations Safely. It’s expected that there will be heavy traffic congestion due to people traveling over the holidays. This essentially means there’s an increased risk of drivers experiencing accidents. While fender benders or a truck breaking down temporarily is manageable, the last thing any employer wants is his/her employee to get injured while moving toward the final destination. Make sure employees understand that reaching their destination safely is more important than getting to their destination efficiently. While both are important, safety should never be compromised.

Staying Safe During the Holiday Rush

Distributors should keep all of these responsibilities top of mind, as the holidays are just around the corner. Prioritizing employee safety is something every business can benefit from. Consider the responsibilities listed above during this peak sales season.

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