When we think about essential services, we think about health care, police and fire departments and utilities, but we should also be thinking about shipping. Without shipping, vital supplies don’t reach the people they need, whether it’s food for your family or personal protective equipment for health care professionals. Our industry isn’t more important than other essential services, but it definitely isn’t less important, either.
Shipping has always carried an underappreciated amount of responsibility, even more so now in the midst of a pandemic. Now instead of protecting your products, you have to worry about protecting your customers, too. Microbes can’t travel on their own, they need someone—or something—to help transport them. At this, the coronavirus has proved dreadfully adaptive. It isn’t as fragile as other microbes and can last long periods of time on any number of surfaces, meaning any pallet of goods could potentially be carriers of the virus.
Researchers have found that the lifespan of the virus varies from surface to surface.
When you look at the lifespans on these surfaces, it’s good news for shipping. Most experts agree that packages don’t transmit the virus, otherwise the pandemic would have immediately exploded out of China. Warehouses that pack boxes with paper (including tissue paper) or bundle with copper wiring are ahead of the game. On the other hand, health officials advise against using plastic and Styrofoam for packing unless they’ve been disinfected.
The bad news? The virus’ lifespan varies by temperature. The chilly weather this spring has done nothing to curb the pandemic, since the virus tends to live longer in colder temperatures, sometimes a week or so more. Since most shipments take only a day or two, this is a big concern right now for warehouse managers and consumers alike.
The best practice for warehouse managers is to keep their spaces clean, monitor the health of their employees and clean some more. The best any of us can do is to stay vigilant. It’s also a good idea for pallets to sit for 2 or more days in non-refrigerated spaces before they are loaded. Finally, to err on the side of caution, it is a good idea to disinfect all your shipping materials: the pallet, the pallet and tier sheets, corner guards and plastic wrap if used. We recommend coated paperboard sheets, pads and guards which are easy to spray with any number of antimicrobial solutions, helping to protect consumers in a time when they need safe shipping more than ever.