Important Safety Practices in a Warehouse

Warehouse safety is one of the biggest concern faced by warehouse managers and their employees. There is more to warehouse safety than compliance with fire codes and regulations. Unfortunately, too many warehouse and 3PLs look at safety as meeting the minimum mandated by law or their conscience. Often, neither goes far enough. Here are some of the important safety practices which should be followed in a Warehouse-

1. General Applications: While a warehouse is a controlled environment, employees spend their workdays and nights subject to a wide variety of potentially injury-causing hazards. Potential problems can instantly materialize depending on what they are doing, the equipment in use and materials handled. Prevention of incidents and accidents begins with good housekeeping, which is essential to a safe warehouse. This means heeding common sense; keep docks and floors free of boxes, garbage, boxes, baling materials, debris, dirt, and oil. Piles of trash and debris are a potential fire hazard and hinder evacuation. Make sure that garbage and debris bins are available throughout the warehouse.

2. Falls and Other Preventable Mishaps: Warehouse safety is designed to prevent death as well as far more common accidents and non-lethal injuries. Workers can slip, trip, stumble, fall, or be struck by falling objects, breaking hands, feet, toes and other body parts. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had warehouse owners and management followed some or all of the following recommendations:

a. Block access to exposed or open loading dock doors

b. Permit access to above-floor racks and shelves only if portable ladders or appropriate lifting devices are
available.

c. Use personnel safety cages when lifting employees with forklifts

d. Enforce speed limits for forklifts and lift trucks

3. Material Handling Equipment Safety: Although forklifts and material handling equipment like pallet jacks and drum trucks make moving heavy items much easier, they can become very dangerous when used improperly. Whether you work with forklifts or lift trucks, vehicle safety is essential to preventing crush injuries. The first requirement is to provide training on all automated or mechanical lift equipment. Employees who will be using forklifts should be both trained and licensed by the appropriate authority.

4. Fire Safety: Fire safety is a challenging balance. You have to weigh safety with the operational needs of your facility and business. True, you’re probably reducing your hazard exposure, but how much protection do you really need? How can you best determine whether your warehouse’s fire safety design and practices are sufficient? Hire an outside consultant. The difference between a small fire and a catastrophic fire can often be attributed to how much safety expertise was invested in the warehouse design and later in its daily operation. The consultant will help you evaluate both of these areas.

4. Training and Education: Employees and management training are critical and should be mandatory. Training should also be more than just one or two days when employees are trainees; continue it throughout employment. Everyone with cause to work in the warehouse (from drivers and pickers to managers and accounting clerks) should be trained. Don’t let employees avoid training by accepting their claims that they’re experienced. They might need to have their bad habits exorcised and you can do it with hands-on, experiential safety education that mixes lecture with small group sessions.

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