Your warehouse is a key part of your business. It forms the heart of your distribution center as products flow in from suppliers and out to customers. Warehouses are highly busy environments filled with heavy equipment, large boxes, heights, and forklifts. With all of these factors at play, maintaining a safe workplace is essential. Fortunately there are a number of steps that can be taken to further improve warehouse safety. With these tips, you will be able to take pride in knowing that your warehousing solutions are able to provide a secure and safe work environment.
9 Key Guidelines To Keep Your Warehouse Safe
Ensure Safe Forklift Operation
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports, there are around 95,000 injuries and 100 deaths every year from forklift accidents. Common causes of accidents include improper loading, running into (and toppling) shelves, and running over other workers. Forklift safety starts, but doesn’t stop, with ensuring only properly trained and certified workers operate the vehicle. Racking systems need to be protected as well, such as by installing bumpers at the end of the aisles and being quick to replace any damaged racks.
Storing products in a warehouse is more than just placing boxes on shelves. Making sure employees know how to distribute weight along a shelf, assess how much weight a given rack can (or can’t) take, and how to stack boxes for effective distribution and ease of access are all key parts of warehouse safety. Shortcuts should be discouraged here, since it is very possible for boxes to fall and land on nearby workers or for the entire rack to collapse if improperly managed.
Improve Employee Ergonomics
Physically and mentally strained employees are more prone to mistakes and injury. Improving workplace practices and training to manage this is an essential warehousing solution. For instance, employees should be trained in the proper ways to lift and carry loads well before they are sent to the floor. Proper use and supply of items like ladders, flatbeds, and similar equipment can also reduce strains, sprains, pulled muscles, and many other forms of injury or lost productivity.
Retraining and Refreshing
Undergoing training when first hired is fine for the initial period of a worker’s time with your company. After a while, however, things will be forgotten or change. Employees should undergo refresher training sessions in warehouse practices and safety to improve workplace safety. It is also important to have a set of formal, written warehousing safety standards and keep them posted in a public and frequently-trafficked location. Something as simple as a list by the fridge in the break room can help keep employees conscious of safety policies.
Keep Loading Docks Safe
Loading docks are high-traffic areas that feature an intersection of heavy vehicles, employees, cargo, and a high potential for obstructive visibility that can all collide (figuratively or literally) in dangerous ways if the proper precautions aren’t taken. For instance, fall accidents are possible if employees are too focused on their work and not on where the edge of the dock is. Placing signs or brightly colored tape along the edge can help alleviate this. Other simple steps, like making sure dock plates are well-secured, that weight capacities are respected, making sure dock stairs and ladders have handrails, and not allowing forklifts to back all the way to a dock’s edge, can all contribute to safe warehouse practices.
Be Prepared for the Weather
The hot and cold months can pose additional safety considerations that need to be taken into account. During summer, it is important to monitor employees for signs of heat stroke and to make sure they have proper supplies of cold water. For winter, a useful warehouse safety tip would be to make sure you strike a balance between warmth and safety. Employees should be able to wear layers or warmer clothes if they feel the need, but it is important to verify that their choice of wardrobe doesn’t restrict movement or is loose enough to get caught on something.
Maintain Proper Emergency Signage
You have likely trained your employees in warehouse safety procedures such as when to administer first aid, use an eye wash station, seek a fire extinguisher or emergency exit, and so on. However, it is also important to make sure these and other crucial safety equipment can be easily found from anywhere in the warehouse. Maintaining emergency signage that is bold, stands out clearly against the surrounding surfaces, and can be seen from afar is extremely important.
Proper ventilation is a crucial part of safe warehouse practices, but can be surprisingly easy to overlook. It is important not to underestimate the way stacks and racks can shape or impede airflow through the warehouse. This can limit circulation and let exhaust from warehouse vehicles linger and stagnate in place. Getting the airflow of your warehouse checked and ensuring adequate ventilation is maintained, especially in high traffic areas, is a matter of both employee comfort and safety.
Conduct Safety Sweeps
No amount of warehouse safety tips will help unless you have the procedures in place to ensure they are followed. Periodically, whether on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, safety sweeps should be conducted to check for potential hazards and make sure warehouse safety procedures are being followed. In addition to a checklist that assesses whether loading bay doors are clear, corners have adequate visibility, floors are free of slip or trip hazards, etc., those conducting safety sweeps should have the ability to evaluate potentially unexpected sources of accidents that they encounter. Initiative leads to prevention, after all.
APS Fulfillment, Inc. is a specialist in direct mail marketing, warehousing solutions, and e-commerce product fulfillment. Visit our website for more tips on how to identify the best e-commerce, inventory, warehouse management, and shipping fulfillment strategies.