A warehouse is not a one-dimensional space or four walls and a roof. There is a loading dock outside, possibly overhead cranes inside, tall ladders, pallets, staff walking to and fro, and forklifts moving up and down. In some cases, workers may be visually impaired by the boxes they are carrying. In a busy warehouse, all of these things are happening simultaneously. That is why safety measures in a warehouse are of paramount importance.
Why Is Safety Important in a Warehouse?
Warehouse Safety Importance
The goal of warehouse safety procedures is to ensure the operational efficiency and smooth running of the warehouse, as well as the health and safety of workers. Safety focuses on three main areas:
- Building safety – no leaking pipes or electrical faults.
- Accident prevention – making sure trucks don’t reverse into the loading dock, speed, or forklifts and/or trucks don’t collide with each other or the shelving or staff.
- Equipment safety and usage regulations – this includes knowing how to move things such as tall mobile ladders, how to use the forklift, and understanding the loading capacity of shelving.
The key warehouse safety goals are to prevent bodily harm and death, protect the merchandise, and keep equipment in good working order. Warehouse management must ensure correct measures are in place to prevent workplace injuries and lawsuits as well as costly stoppages.
Warehouse Safety Benefits
The benefits of proper warehouse safety are twofold. First, protecting lives, and second, preserving efficiencies that protect the bottom line. The ultimate responsibility for warehouse workers, equipment, vehicles, buildings, and merchandise rests with the employer.
The warehouse manager or boss can be taken to court for warehouse accidents and violations to be proved negligent. Therefore, it is in the boss’s interest not only to ensure safety measures are in place but also to understand the potential warehouse hazards. The best thing a warehouse manager can do is to go beyond and ensure workers adhere to safety regulations. Managers can create a safety-first workplace culture by putting all staff through rigorous safety training courses and outlining all occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) rules and guidelines.
Safety becomes part of a company’s culture when it it’s top of mind. To create such a culture, safety must be visible and employees need to be aware of all potential hazards. This can be done on a practical level, apart from circulating memos.
First, the entire environment has to be correctly labeled. Secondly, warehouse operations staff must be provided with and wear personal protective equipment, especially high visibility jackets. Furthermore, all warehouse employees must attend safety awareness courses. Included in those courses should be guidelines for ensuring warehouse visitors’ safety.
Within the culture of safety, it’s important to publicize who the safety leaders are and what they are responsible for. It will be the responsibility of those leaders to guard against comfort, familiarity, and complacency.
Forklift drivers are worthy of special mention. Very little can take place operationally in a warehouse without them. Driving a forklift is not as easy as it looks. In fact, that is why drivers need a forklift license.
Bringing heavy pallets down from high shelves or putting goods up there is an art form. An inexperienced driver could easily have an entire row of high-rise shelving toppling down on them, causing merchandise to crash to the floor. Forklift drivers need to be properly trained on the actual forklifts in the warehouse.
While forklifts are fairly generic, there may be subtle differences between makes and models. Forklift operator training also includes the basics of weight distribution and balancing when maneuvering.
Keep it Black n Yellow
A great addition for any warehouse is black and yellow tape. It can be used to demarcate walkaways and enhances safety visibility to keep us all safe.
Additional Reading: Warehousing – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
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