Blog post

Statements from our UK and US warehouses

An update on workplace safety practices from our distributors.

Verso Books17 April 2020

Statements from our UK and US warehouses

Like many of you, we (in the Verso UK and US offices) have been working from home for some weeks now. We miss seeing colleagues every day but feel grateful to be able to continue our work during this time. We are also very lucky to be able to continue providing you–our readers–with books via our website, both in ebook format and print. For that, we have our UK and North American distribution warehouses to thank. We have been in regular contact with them throughout this crisis to check on their workplace safety practices. We will continue to check in with them to make sure that is it sensible for us to keep selling (print) books from our website. Below are statements from both. We will update these, as and when is required, over the coming weeks.

Penguin Random House, North America

Facilities Cleaning

Our cleaning services have ramped up the cleaning and sanitizing of all areas and touchpoints within our facilities.

We are supplying sanitizing materials, hand wipes and sanitizers in all the work and break areas.  We have a distillery near Crawfordsville supplying us with homemade hand sanitizers for that facility.

Cafeteria and break areas have cleaning supplies for employees to wipe areas before and after use.

Each shift is wiping down all equipment and desks before starting to work and again before they leave.

CDC guidelines for safety and hygiene, as well as other COVID 19 safety and social distancing reminders, are posted everywhere throughout the facilities.

On-Site Physical Distancing

We have shortened shift hours so that there are 30 minutes between shifts to alleviate the gathering of groups and intermingling of staff at change-overs. Employees are paid for their full, non-shortened shift.

Every employee has been assigned to a specific work area where they stay.

We are not moving employees around at all during the day as we do in normal times.  If we need to move people to a different work area, we are moving them at the start of the week and keeping them there all week.

The way work is passed has been rethought, limiting areas where there are touchpoints and providing barriers wherever we can.

Employees are assigned specific break areas and restroom facilities based on their work area in order to limit exposure and cross-contamination among groups.

Each shift has added additional break and lunchtimes so that fewer people are breaking at the same time.

Chairs in break/lunch areas have been arranged at least 6 feet apart.

Employees are no longer clocking in or out so there is no need to gather at time clocks. Supervisors are manually adjusting time.

Non-essential doors and non-essential turnstiles have been opened so they don’t need to be touched.

Our secured screened dock doors have been opened to allow fresh air in between shifts and where possible airflow has been turned on for ventilation.

Where possible, alternate and exit points have been identified and are being used so the flow of people through each door is relaxed.

Signs have been hung throughout the facilities reiterating 6 feet social distancing, and work areas have been taped off to identify 6 foot distances.

We are working to install Plexiglas shields to the office area to create a barrier between truck drivers and our employees.

Sanitizing supplies are being supplied for the outside trucking employees to use before they enter our shipping offices to pick-up or deliver.


Employees whose jobs require them to be onsite have been given an additional 40 hours of paid time off to use for any reason along with their bank of personal, sick and vacation time.

All attendance policy rules have been suspended, allowing people to decide for themselves about their attendance at work during this time, without incurring repercussions.

Employees may also choose to take as much unpaid time away from work as they would like, for any reason.

Employees have been asked to please stay home if they are feeling unwell.

Most importantly, we are supporting each employee as they deal with the COVID 19 crisis and will work with each one as needed to address their concerns or the special needs of their lives.  We are thankful to be able to continue to work on-site at this time when so many have been so negatively impacted.  Our books are essential and our employees even more so.

Marston Book Services, UK

Staff welfare remains our priority concern at this time and we are conducting daily employee briefings with the latest information, including best practices in social distancing and containing the spread of the coronavirus. All warehouse staff have been issued with gloves and masks and there is improved signage to indicate the correct 2m distancing.

Read a statement on workplace safety practices and business during COVID-19 from one of our UK-based printers, CPI, here.