According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, warehouses experience around 15,000 accidents, illnesses, and injuries every year. When properly managed, warehouse safety measures can help avoid many fully preventable workplace injuries and accidents.
Use the tips below to help ensure you have a safe warehouse environment:
Set minimum safety standards
A warehouse safety checklist is one of the easiest ways to help ensure standards are met. Setting clear guidelines and providing them to all employees and partners helps reinforce the idea that safety is always a priority. Typical guidelines include items such as wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), proper handling of materials, and keeping floors and aisles free of debris.
With the proper education, many problems can be prevented up-front. Employers should offer not only a safety handbook, but also first-aid training, emergency response plans, and even an ergonomics guide. In addition, safety expectations should be posted on or near all equipment—forklifts, ladders, hydraulic lifts, etc. This helps remind employees that safety is always a priority.
Provide proper safety equipment
Provide proper equipment and enforce its use. All warehouses are different, but these items are generally recommended in all environments:
- Hard hats. These protect you from objects falling from above, such as off a ladder or the rack of a forklift, as well as any other head trauma.
- Eye protection. Warehouses can be full of hazards such as flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation which can damage the eyes.
- Work gloves. Work gloves can help prevent a variety of injuries, from cuts to burns, and some cover you all the way up to the elbow. Make sure the gloves you’re using offer the appropriate level of protection for the job.
- Anti-fatigue floor mats. These help provide traction in dry work areas, as well as providing comfort and back protection for workers who spend long hours on their feet.
- Proper footwear. Steel toe, nom-slip boots can help protect the feet when struck by falling objects, or when run over by/stuck in equipment, as well as helping to prevent falls.
Regularly inspect warehouse equipment
Any machinery or equipment that is used regularly is liable to become damaged or unusable. The following items should be inspected every day before use:
- Forklifts: Do a quick check to look for any visible damage, look for leaking fluids, makes sure the forks aren’t bent or cracked, and verify that the floor is clear and there aren’t any overhead obstructions.
- Ladders: Check for broken hinges, missing bolts, cracked or loose steps, and any grease or other debris which may cause a slip.
- PPE: Check all hard hats, goggles, face shields and other equipment for visible damage (such as cracks or tears) before use every day.
Periodic assessments allow you to troubleshoot any potential safety hazards before they become an issue. Use this opportunity to go over the warehouse safety checklist with employees and test their knowledge, as well as inspecting their workstations and PPE.
Create a workplace safety committee, and let the employees take control of their own environment. Offer incentives for continued adherence to safety standards and time spent injury-free.
By making safety an ongoing priority, many injuries can be avoided altogether, saving the company both money and time lost.