The warehouse environment can be a dangerous place for workers. However with the right tools and preparation, companies can help workers avoid injuries and protect their bottom line. Following these safety tips for warehouse employees is essential to maintaining warehouse safety.
Many people don't realize that warehouses are often filled with common hazards. This is especially true when employers don't make safety a priority. In the United States the warehouse industry has a fatality rate higher than that of the national average for all occupations.
Below, we'll cover some basic tips that should be followed in every warehouse, regardless of size or number of employees:
Be alert of your surroundings
Safety beings with awareness. Being alert and aware of potential hazards and safety issues is the first way to avoid workplace injuries.
This is especially true in high traffic areas such as the loading docks. Safety signs offer warnings to employees to keep them alert. These signs should be clearly visible and free of obstruction at all times.
Keep in mind though that being alert extends beyond reading safety signs. Being aware of potential hazards is the best way to turn an incident into a near miss.
Ensure all workers are properly trained
Your employees may groan at the mention of training, but everyone needs to know the safe way to carry out operations.
You'll want to stress training isn't just about teaching employees how to follow safety procedures. It also reminds employees they face safety hazards every day, and they remain safe because they know how to avoid these hazards. Understanding the value training provides ensures workers take workplace safety more seriously.
From operating a forklift to electrical hazards, you must provide employee training. You also want to make sure your tracking safety training when it occurs. Many warehouse safety topics need to reoccur on a timely basis to meet OSHA training regulations.
Maintain proper ergonomics and lifting techniques
Ergonomics and lifting are hidden hazard that are too often ignored until it is too late and the damage is done. This is why it is critical to follow safe stacking guidelines to avoid these hidden hazards.
A single action such as lifting a box once may not cause any damage on its own. But warehouse employees are subject to repetitive motions that strain the body enough to cause damage over long periods of time.
Be proactive in preventing the injury that 10% of the US population suffers from. Follow OSHA's heavy lifting techniques and guidelines to avoid injury. We recommend you include a session on OSHA's lifting techniques as part of your employee training.
Remember to also err on the side of caution and use tools when an object feels a bit heavy.
Keep aisles and pathways clear of materials and debris
Good housekeeping helps to prevent several types of hazards in the warehousing industry.
For starters clear pathways are an excellent way to avoid slip and trip hazards. Trips and falls are common injuries in most industries, and warehouses are no exception.
Most importantly, keeping aisles and pathways clear is a critical part of fire safety. The nature of warehouses makes them particularly susceptible to fires spreading rapidly.
As such, all emergency exits need to be clearly marked and free of debris. This will ensure everyone is able to leave in the event of an emergency.
Follow forklift safety rules
The most commonly violated OSHA standard by warehouses is the its forklift safety standard. This leads to roughly 95,000 employees being injured every year while operating forklifts.
A lot of the injuries tend to revolve around ignoring common sense. As mentioned, you'll want to provide proper forklift training to try and prevent such issues from occurring.
Of course, you'll also want to make sure employees are conducting regular forklift inspections to meet OSHA requirements. Doing so will not only improve safety, but prevent any fees associated with OSHA standard violations.
You may have noticed much of warehouse safety leads back to employee training. Safety training is critical in ensuring new employees know the proper techniques, and older employees don't ignore them!
Yet keeping track of how long it's been since who has completed which training is tedious and time consuming. With so much to be done, it's easy to overlook the importance of employee training.
In these cases, you should rely on employee training tracking software to take all the hard work out of safety training. Let the computer update you when someone needs re-training, so you can focus on other areas of the warehouse. To learn more how such software can work for you, sign up for a free demo of IndustrySafe today.