WORKER’S GUIDE TO DEVELOPING A WAREHOUSE SAFETY PLANWarehouses, filled with constant activity among large and dangerous equipment and vehicles, are potential centers for organizational risk. Companies that don’t yet have formalized strategies for preventing accidents in warehouses – protecting their employees from bodily harm or even death while also minimizing supply chain downtime – are creating unnecessary danger. Organizations that find they lack warehouse safety plans should remedy that issue as quickly as possible, developing comprehensive overviews to ensure every element of the facility’s operation is being carried out in a safe and compliant manner. From employee practices and training to the maintenance of equipment and upkeep of spaces, there are numerous relevant points to formalize as part of a warehouse safety plan.
POTENTIAL HAZARDSThe following are the areas of warehouse safety, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with some of the best practices that can go into a comprehensive safety plan. Docks Having strong safety practices on and around loading docks is a major priority for warehouse operators. Equipment such as lifts or commercial doors could cause disruptions on a dock, as could forklifts or larger vehicles. Docks are one of the primary locations for employee injuries and deaths, and even small disruptions on docks can cause supply chain disruptions. A safety plan incorporating comprehensive dock safety measures should ensure all surfaces and areas are clear at all times, and that assets such as lifts and dock plates are maintained. Dock edges must be marked clearly, while ladders and stairs should receive frequent checks to ensure they’re up to OSHA regulations. Employees should receive specific training about how to operate docks, including learning how to drive forklifts safely without making risky moves such as jumping from a dock. Forklifts Either on the dock or elsewhere in the warehouse, forklifts may cause harm if they aren’t maintained – or if employees haven’t been taught the practices of forklift operations. OSHA reports that approximately 100 workers die in forklift accidents every year, while 95,000 are injured. Training is a key component of forklift safety and an essential addition to a warehouse plan. All operators must be trained up to OSHA’s safety standards. Drivers should follow rules such as driving at slow speeds, avoiding unsafe floors, wearing seat belts and inspecting their vehicles every time they drive. Maintaining forklifts is essential – this includes checking components such as the tires for possible risks.
Warehouses with conveyors should pay attention to these assets, because OSHA warns they can harm personnel in a few distinct ways. Workers who are caught in conveyors or struck by objects falling from them can suffer severe harm, while personnel who make repetitive or awkward motions working with products on conveyors can suffer long-term disorders.
As with any piece of warehouse equipment, conveyors must be actively maintained to ensure they are working at full capacity. Warehouse safety plans should include lockout/tagout procedures to make sure conveyors can’t activate unexpectedly, while work areas around these assets should be well-lit and reduce the risk of employees from being caught in pinch points.
Managing the way items are stored in a warehouse may be a low-priority item on a safety checklist. After all, the danger posed by goods in the facility isn’t as noticeable as the risk surrounding a piece of equipment. However,falling items may cause serious harm to workers.
Warehouse safety plans should include instructions regarding the correct storage of items in the facilities. Every load should be stacked evenly, with heavy goods going on low or middle shelves. Workers should make sure the paths they travel through warehouses are clear, and understand how to remove items from shelves without straining themselves.
Manual lifting and hauling
Warehousing stakeholders should pay close attention to the way people lift and carry large objects in the facility. When there is no training around this important topic, it’s possible for workers to suffer back injuries. This kind of accident can be painful and debilitating for employees, and cost companies in terms of lost productivity and worker’s compensation payments.
Warehouse managers should consider the kinds of lifting and handling tasks employees are expected to perform, then develop training programs that will address those situations. The training should take the form of general ergonomics as well as specific lessons for specific load types. Warehouse storage plans should also include optimized storage, to minimize the need for excessive lifting.
While heavy lifting may be the most notable form of ergonomic risk in the warehouse, many kinds of actions can pose a danger to workers. For example, people who perform frequent tasks with poor form can suffer repetitive stress injuries. A poorly designed workspace is one that encourages employees to move in harmful ways, or puts people at risk of slips, trips and falls.
Warehouse managers should think about the way spaces are laid out, as well as whether their workers always have clear paths to traverse and work within. Training workers on the activities they’ll perform in their day-to-day duties is an important ergonomic consideration.