Safe warehouses are not safe by accident. Warehouse safety requires a great deal of hard work and dedication. No employee wants to be harmed at work; nobody wants to harm anyone else at work. The key is great training and regular follow-up with processes in place to keep the warehouse safe. Following these eight steps to a safe warehouse will help make your warehouse a safer place.
- Mark potential hazards with signage: There will always be potential hazards in a warehouse. The key to a safe warehouse is to make sure they are clearly marked with highly visible signs and/or labels.
- Keep clutter and debris off the floor: Clutter, cords, hoses, spills and other items that could cause someone to slip, trip or fall are dangerous hazards. A clear floor is a safe floor.
- Close the dock doors: unless there is a trailer being loaded or unloaded. Open or exposed loading docks pose safety issues where employees could fall four feet or more. If the dock door must be left open, be sure that the walk off is chained- or roped-off and blocked.
- Allow enough time: Too many injuries in warehouses are caused by employees rushing to get something done. It is extremely important that management schedule enough time to get the job done without rushing; it is equally as important that employees understand the time allotment and keep pace.
- Prepare for the weather: It is natural to sweat during strenuous manual labor. Be sure your employees have clear instructions on how to deal with the heat. Make sure there is adequate supply of cold water. Provide clear instructions on how to avoid heat stress in hot, humid environments. When it is cold outside, make sure they are properly layered. Make sure they are not wearing too many layers to restrict their motion; nothing should be too loose to cause a potential hazard getting caught in something.
- Break up the day: No matter how hard an employee works or wants to work, it is only natural to become fatigued when performing physical work. It is important to schedule periodic rest breaks to avoid fatigue. If an employee is sick or otherwise too fatigued to work safely, it is important that they be encouraged to speak up to avoid a higher risk of accidents and reduced quality of work.
- Train the newbies first: Just because a new hire is hired or has experience does not mean they are ready to run 100% in a new workplace. Be sure to integrate the newly hired employees carefully. Make sure they receive task-specific and general ergonomics training.
- Ventilation: Even though dock doors are open and the wind is blowing does not necessarily mean the warehouse has proper or adequate ventilation. High stacks and/or racks can cause exhaust from forklifts or trucks to become stagnant. Be sure that the warehouse is well ventilated.
Constantly monitor your safety procedures and update your protocol through training and your warehouse will become a safe haven too. Following these eight steps in the warehouse will help make warehouses a safer place to work.