Warehouses are commonly cited for OSHA violations and fined accordingly, but with the right tools and preparation, companies can avoid this damage to their reputation and bottom line, and potentially save employee lives in the process.
Working in a warehouse can be a dangerous business, filled with common hazards. This is especially when employers don't make safety an organizational priority. In the U.S., more than 145,000 people work in over 7,000 warehouses, and the industry has a fatality rate higher than that of the national average for all occupations.
The most common citations, according to OSHA, involve the use and maintenance of forklifts, electrical hazards, machine guarding, respiratory protection, lockout/tagout and portable fire extinguishers. Below, we'll cover some basic tips that should be followed in every warehouse, regardless of size or number of employees:
- Ensure all workers are properly trained. Make sure employees have the proper certification to operate any heavy equipment, including forklifts and balers. Employees should also be taught about the hazards that can arise when forklifts are used in an enclosed space, such as carbon monoxide risks.
- Make sure warnings near dock edges are clearly visible and unobstructed.
- Train workers on proper ergonomics and lifting techniques.
- Keep aisles and pathways clear of materials and debris. It's also important to ensure that all emergency exits are clearly marked and unobstructed.
- Make sure chemicals or other hazardous substances are stored safely, securely and away from high-traffic areas.
Unfortunately, many warehouses have higher rates of turnover, making it more difficult for leadership to ensure that team members have all received the proper training. In these cases, employers should rely on employee training tracking software to gain greater visibility into their protection and OSHA compliance. For insight into how IndustrySafe can help complement the protection of your warehouse staff, visit our website.