5 Essential Warehouse Safety Tips
Warehouses can be very hazardous places to work. Several fatalities occur every year, and about 4% of employees are affected by work-related injuries or illnesses that involve lost work, job restriction, or transfer each year. With an estimated 145,000 people working in warehousing, about 5,800 of them will have a serious work-related injury or illness each year. These numbers are not surprising given the amount of heavy product being moved and machinery being used every day. According to OSHA, some of the potential hazards to workers in warehousing are:
- Unsafe forklift use
- Improper product stacking
- Failure to use proper personal protective equipment
- Failure to follow proper lockout/tagout procedures
- Inadequate fire safety provisions
- Repetitive motion injuries
In order to keep your warehouse both safe and profitable, it’s essential for you to take warehouse safety concerns very seriously. We’ve put together a list of five essential warehouse safety tips to keep your warehouse running and your workers safe.
1. Train Your Staff
It doesn’t matter how safe your work environment is if your staff isn’t properly trained in safety regulations. Safety training should be held on a regular basis, for both new employees and veterans. The training should be conducted by a qualified safety expert and include testing for comprehension. While unpopular, this testing helps to ensure that the information is understood and retained by your employees. Safety training and certification for the operators of any heavy equipment, like forklifts, should be a very high priority, because unsafe use of heavy machinery can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.
2. Keep It Clean
A lot of debris can accumulate in a warehouse, including empty boxes, discarded shrink-wrap, empty pallets, and other items. All areas of the warehouse should be kept free from this kind of debris in order to maintain a safe environment. The floors should also be kept free from oil, water, cleaning products, or other spills that can cause slipping and injury. Your warehouse should have a designated place for everything, and your crew should be trained to consistently keep everything in its proper place. This can help minimize the likelihood of accidents due to misplaced items.
3. Use Proper Stacking
Uneven stacks can be unstable and unsafe. When warehouse items are stacked improperly, you risk single items or even whole stacks falling and potentially injuring somebody. Make sure that all stacking is done evenly, with the heaviest items on the bottom. Investing in high-quality racking equipment that meets current safety standards is critical to the safety of your employees.
4. Use Proper Lighting
Poor lighting can lead to many unnecessary accidents. If you can’t see potential hazards clearly, it’s much more difficult to avoid them. Having a well-lit warehouse can drastically reduce the potential for this type of accident. Your entire warehouse should have strong, even lighting. Additionally, detail-oriented work areas should have task lighting installed.
5. Create a “Safety Culture”
Your managers are responsible for warehouse safety, and they should be setting the standard for safe behavior. However, cultivating a group dynamic where your workers prioritize safety of their own volition is ideal. This type of “safety culture” should encourage your workforce to realize that safety is everybody’s responsibility, not just the bosses’.
In the end, a safe work environment cannot be created or maintained by meetings held once or twice a year. Safety must be a mainstay of your warehouse operations every single day. Take the time to analyze your current safety regulations and adjust them if you don’t feel they are adequate for keeping your employees safe.