When it comes to warehouse safety there are many benefits that are often overlooked. Safety procedures are frequently disregarded in a variety of workplaces due to insufficient time, inadequate resources or an opportunity to cut corners in an attempt to save money. However, when safety procedures are soundly implemented there are major benefits such as higher employee satisfaction as well as increased productivity. By minimizing the risk of injury, fewer workplace disruptions take place and absenteeism associated with injury is also reduced. Equipment downtime is another factor which can be avoided through the appropriate use of safety procedures.
Key Safety Guidelines for Warehouse Safety
1. Ensure Safety Equipment is Used at all Times
In the warehouse, it is vital that forklifts or hydraulic dollies are used to lift items that are too heavy. Appropriate eyewear and hard hats should also be worn when required. Employees should be aware of emergency exits and the sprinklers installed in the roof should not be blocked at any time. Safety equipment is implemented in order to minimize workplace injury, so although it may be time-consuming to initiate its use, it does pay off in the long run.
2. Eliminate Any Potential Safety Hazards
Ensure all warehousing floors are free of ‘slip and trip’ hazards. It is important that this safety check is carried out on a regular basis, by all employees, and that the floor is always free of stray cords, liquids and any other potentially hazardous items. It is also essential that any cracks and pits in the flooring are attended to as these can cause serious injuries to employers as well as damaging expensive machinery.
3. Clearly Label Designated Hazardous Zones
Dangerous equipment should be stored away in an area that is clearly labeled and safe walkways should be highlighted through necessary signage. The easiest way to illuminate hazardous zones is by using tape or painting black and white stripes on the floor of the designated area. This enables employees to be aware of dangerous surroundings and can be useful in avoiding accidents that can cause serious injury.
4. Always Use Safe Lifting Techniques
When a load requires transporting, firstly assess what method is the best option for its movement. If lifting is the most suitable method; check the route to ensure no obstacles are in the way and ensure there is enough space for the load at its destination. Safe lifting techniques should always be carried out and the load should not obstruct the view of the lifter. Use all materials handling equipment carefully and follow the proper operating procedures including push rather than pull, whenever possible and lean in the direction that is being traveled. Also, never drive a forklift or use other powered equipment without training or authorization.
5. Provide Training and Refresher Courses
Ensure all staff is educated and up to date with knowledge about safe practices within the workplace. This allows for greater adherence to procedures as staff members will be completely aware of the consequences that can emanate from an unsafe workplace. Accidents most commonly occur when corners are cut in an attempt to save time. If staff and management are completely aware of the repercussions that can arise from this fact, procedures may be followed more closely.
6. Promote Awareness in your Warehouse
Having a sense of awareness in the workplace is an important safety factor. This can be achieved through communication between staff members. By employees being vocal and yelling out to others their location, collision incidents can be drastically reduced. When carrying items or driving machinery, a simple “coming through” can alert other co-workers of their whereabouts and can allow them to steer clear of dangerous pathways.
Top World Health and Safety Hazards
The following are listed as top health and safety hazards found in most warehouses around the world.
1. Falls from a Height
There are various regulations in place to protect those working at great heights which include the Work at Height Regulations 2005. By the very nature and structure of warehouses, employees will be asked on a regular basis to store and remove various products at great heights. It is fair to say that safety issues have been improved in recent years with the use of cherry pickers and other elevation machinery reducing the chances of employees falling from a great height. However, not all warehouse facilities are as safe as they should be and there have been instances of employees falling from a great height due to a lack of training, substandard machinery or other employee-related issues for which a warehouse accident claim could be started.
2. Fire Hazard and Risks in Warehouses
According to a study by the German Insurance Association, more than one-third of all industrial and commercial fires occur in warehouses. As such, fire prevention takes on special importance within the storage and logistics sector and needs to play an important role in logistics centers and warehouses right from the planning stages. Most warehouse fires are caused by sparks emitted by overloaded electronic components, such as drive motors or high-back racking units.
3. Struck by Moving Vehicle
Training is vital when it comes to operating forklift trucks in a warehouse. A warehouse may seem like a relatively safe environment to operate a forklift truck but in fact, can be an environment which is very challenging. Trained and experienced employees must only be using a forklift truck in situations where they have the relevant experience and skills required.
4. Struck by Moving Object
(a) Struck-By Flying Object Hazards: Flying object hazards exist when something has been hurled, thrown or is being propelled across space. It can include instances when a piece of material separates from a tool, machine or other equipment, striking a worker, resulting in injury or fatality.
(b) Struck-By Falling Object Hazards: Falling hazards include falling from an elevation to a lower level or being struck by a falling object or equipment. This can cause the injured person to be crushed, pinned or caught under a falling object.
(c) Struck-By Swinging Object Hazards: When materials are mechanically lifted, they have the potential to swing and strike workers.
(d) Struck-By Rolling Object Hazards: Struck-by rolling object is when an object which is rolling, moving or sliding hits a worker.
5. Vehicle Overturns
Vehicle overturns are caused by:
(a) The vehicle not being suitable for the task
(b) Driving on slopes that are too steep
(c) Driving on slippery surfaces, for example, oil spills
(d) Driving on poor or uneven ground, for example, soft ground, potholes or over curbs
(e) Poor loading, for example, the vehicle is overloaded, unevenly loaded or in the case of some forklift trucks under loaded
(f) Speeding, especially going too fast around corners
6. Contract Moving Machinery
Moving machinery can cause injuries in many ways: People can be struck and injured by moving parts of machinery or ejected material. Parts of the body can also be drawn in or trapped between rollers, belts and pulley drives.
Workplace Safety and Health Act
Employees have a duty to keep their workplace and colleagues safe. They should follow safety and health procedures at their workplace, not endanger themselves and their colleagues, not tamper with safety devices or perform wilful or reckless acts, report unsafe work conditions, behaviors and workplace incidents and provide suggestions to improve safety and health at work.
Under the Act, employers are required to ensure the safety and health of every one of their employees. Employers should remove or control risks at their workplace, maintain a safe work environment, make sure that safety is maintained in all equipment used at the workplace, develop plans for dealing with emergencies and provide employees with clear plans and resources to keep their workplace safe.
Health and safety at the workplace are a major concern of warehouse managers. Vigilant undertake a regular risk assessment. Ensure staff is working to the correct SOP and the equipment is maintained to the highest standards.
Benefits: reduce cost and reduce risks, employee absence and turnover rates, fewer accidents and the threat of legal action, better corporate reputation and increase productivity, employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.
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Jeff Tan Ai Keong, DLSM. (2018). “Key Performance Indicators Minimising Warehouse Risks”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/key-performance-indicators-minimising-warehouse-risks, accessed 18/03/2019.
Health And Safety Authority. (2019). “Vehicle Overturns”.Retrieved from – https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Vehicles_at_Work/Work_Related_Vehicle_Safety/Vehicle_Risks/Vehicle_Overturns, accessed 18/03/2019.
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