FRC Suppliers During the COVID-19 Crisis – Safety

Last week we introduced our five-part blog series, FRC Suppliers During the COVID-19 Crisis. This series gives you resources critical to evaluating your FRC supplier to ensure you have access to the services and products to function most efficiently – particularly during a crisis. Because of COVID-19, there have been many changes to how we shop, all of which have been significantly modified to accommodate a contact-free and socially-distant experience, with increased awareness on personal safety.

Safety is a key issue facing all FRC providers, and not all providers prioritize “safe” COVID-19 prevention. How can you evaluate your supplier in regards to safety?

Safety Issues You Should Know

Most direct-purchase FRC providers utilize large warehouses with multiple areas for picking, embroidery, packaging, and shipping. This type of set-up requires multiple support staff handling your garments prior to shipment.

When it comes to evaluating your FRC supplier in regards to safety, and successfully navigating the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, there are two primary questions to ask. Tyndale’s Vice President of Technical, Scott Margolin explains:

1) What is my provider doing to ensure their shipments are free of COVID-19 contamination?

Does your FRC provider frequently sanitize shipping workstations? If yes, is each workstation being wiped down prior to use, or are spray or misting sanitizers being used to blanket a large area with chemical sanitizer? Either way, how is your supplier ensuring that:

  • The chemicals used for sanitization at the facility are not harmful to FR properties
  • The chemicals are used in adequate amounts to effectively neutralize COVID-19
  • The chemicals used for sanitization DO NOT affect FRC, and they can verify this in writing from a credible source

2) Is there a possibility that the garments you receive are contaminated with COVID-19 particles?

Knowing the answer to this question is key to keeping safe from COVID-19. Receiving contaminated garments puts your entire operation at risk. This is where the “contamination timeline” comes into play. Knowing exactly how long the virus can remain viable on garments and PPE is important to protecting your workforce and evaluating your supplier’s ability to minimize the risk of infectious particles making their way to you.

The COVID-19 virus can remain “viable” on porous surfaces, like fabric or cardboard, for up to 24 hours. On harder surfaces, like metal or plastics, the virus can remain viable anywhere from 3-days up to 1-week.

If your garments are shipped in a sealed cardboard box, as is common with most direct-purchase providers, chances are the item was packed more than 24 hours prior. As a result, any virus particles on the items are rendered non-infectious by the time they arrive to you, and you can feel safe handling the shipment with basic precautions for handling the outer shipping container.

The problem arises when garments are hand-delivered (via truck), as is common with most uniform rental (“rental”) suppliers. If you are in a rental program, here are some key points to take into account:

  • Where has that garment been stored, and how many people have been in contact with that garment since it was washed at the provider’s facility?
  • If garments are delivered by truck, has the truck itself been sterilized?
  • Are dirty garments and clean garments separated so cross-contamination doesn’t occur?
  • If the truck makes multiple stops between the warehouse and your worksite, can you be sure that cross-contamination didn’t occur along the way?
  • Are the garments sealed in plastic to prevent contagious particle contamination?
  • Once at your location, what are the safeguards in place to prevent contamination from your workforce? If you have a weeks’ worth of rented garments, are those garments kept in a safe location with minimal access from employees, or are they in a high-traffic area which could lead to contamination if an employee with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes?

We are in an unprecedented era in our history. Never before have we had to monitor – yet even think about – the issues which COVID-19 has presented. Unfortunately these are now critical issues against which to evaluate your FRC supplier during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Follow along with the next post in our series to find out how to evaluate your supplier’s financial stability in times of crisis.

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