Lead Forensics

E-retailers urged to improve protections for warehouse employees

Some online retailers have been criticised by the GMB Union for not enforcing social distancing and other protective measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The GMB particularly criticises fashion retailers who have warehouses that make it difficult to maintain a safe distance between workers. Some retailers including Next, Paul Smith and Net-a-Porter have suspended online operations. High street fashion shops are closed, but many retailers are still accepting online orders.

The GMB represents employees at the ASOS warehouse, where they found that their clocking in system results in employees gathering in a small area. A survey by the union at the ASOS warehouse in Barnsley, South Yorkshire found that 95% of workers felt unsafe at work due to the coronavirus. ASOS has refuted these allegations and say that they have implemented a number of new health and safety measures.

Some clothing retailers have met the approval of the GMB. These include Matalan, whose health and safety procedures are above the level of the government guidelines. These have been approved by an environmental health officer as well as the union.

In warehouses with narrow aisles, it may be difficult for workers to keep a safe distance from others. Reorganising the layout of the warehouse could help. If storage areas are modified so that items are stored in a less dense way and spread around the warehouse, this can create more space for workers to move in. A storage rack and garment rails supplier provides the required additional equipment.

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