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Warehouses help keep the world running. They ensure people receive the products they need for their daily lives and work. However, a warehouse can be a dangerous place to work. In 2020, there were 206,900 non-fatal injuries in the transportation and warehousing sector. Nearly half of those injuries required employees to take time away from work.
Improving warehouse safety by minimizing common warehouse hazards helps your team avoid injury and can increase your facility’s overall productivity.
Why Is Safety So Important in a Warehouse?
Warehouses are large spaces full of heavy items and heavy equipment. They are also potentially full of hazards, ranging from slips and falls to machinery accidents. In some instances, the movements warehouse workers perform, such as bending and stooping or cutting open packages, can put them at risk of injury. Following warehouse safety best practices helps keep everyone safe. Having a system in place to protect workers and ensure safety reduces the risk of injury or death.
As an added benefit, the safer your team members are, the better they can do their jobs. Workers are more likely to be engaged and productive when they feel safe and secure at work. Reducing or eliminating the risk of injury also decreases delays, ensuring items get packed and shipped on schedule.
8 Warehouse Safety Tips
When establishing safety guidelines at your warehouse, you must get buy-in from all your employees. Keep the team up to date on any changing protocols, encourage them to ask questions and clarify any occupational safety practices they aren’t sure about. For actionable steps to take, see this warehouse safety tips list:
1. Provide Protective Equipment
Increasing warehouse safety starts with protecting your team members’ physical bodies. Give employees the gear they need to keep their eyes, feet, hands and the rest of their bodies safe from harm. Make sure your team has the following:
- Sturdy, no-slip shoes: Steel-toe shoes or boots help reduce crushing injuries, such as a box or another heavy object landing on someone’s foot. The footwear should also have an excellent grip to minimize the risk of an employee slipping and falling.
- Eyewear: Protective glasses shield employees’ eyes from falling debris or objects and should be worn anytime someone is on the warehouse floor.
- Gloves: Sturdy gloves help protect against cuts and scratches. In colder conditions, they also provide warmth.
- Hard hats: Forklift operators, in particular, should wear hard hats when driving machines. Other warehouse workers might also want to wear hard hats.
- Masks: If workers are near each other, it’s a good idea for them to wear masks, mainly when COVID-19 case counts are high.
- Safety vests: Bright yellow safety vests make it easier for workers to see each other, reducing the risk of injury.
2. Optimize Warehouse Layout
Arranging the warehouse in a way that’s sensible and increases efficiency also helps reduce workplace injuries. For example, keeping the most popular items near the packing station minimizes the need for an employee or forklift to travel great distances to retrieve those items.
Having clearly defined work areas reduces the chance that an object will get placed outside an area, where it could be tripped over. Putting boxes to be unpacked near the dumpster or trash makes it more likely that packaging will get thrown out immediately rather than left on the floor.
3. Train Staff Early and Often
Every person working in a warehouse should know what their job is and perform it correctly. When you first hire employees, provide them with training so that everyone is on the same page about job requirements. It’s also a good idea to provide ongoing training so that people learn new skills. Ongoing training also helps you verify that workers know how to do their jobs well.
With forklift operations, it’s vital to have strict rules regarding who can drive the equipment. Forklift operators need to be trained. Ideally, they’ll complete a program that provides them with a certificate to show their competency. Don’t allow anyone to operate a forklift without completing the appropriate training program. Also, don’t let any individual under the age of 18 drive a forklift.
4. Inspect Equipment Frequently
Warehouse equipment, such as conveyor belts, forklifts and racks, can wear out with time and use and become unstable or unsafe to use. Perform regular equipment inspections to make sure it is still operating the way it should. Ideally, inspections will occur at the start of each shift. Workers should verify the equipment is in good working order before they start the workday. It’s also important to perform more in-depth maintenance inspections monthly or quarterly.
5. Keep Paths Clear
Packages and supplies spilling into aisles create a trip-and-fall hazard. Make sure everything gets put away in its proper place when people aren’t using it. There should be designated areas to place items when they are in use, such as a table or on a clearly labeled portion of the floor.
To reduce the chance of collisions when people are driving forklifts or other machinery, use arrow markings to show which direction the machinery should travel in. You might also want to mark out lanes — one for machinery and one for people on foot.
6. Stack and Store Inventory Properly
If possible, keep heavier items on the lower shelves of storage racks to make it easier to move and retrieve them. Also, be aware of the weight limits of the racks you use, and avoid putting more than the maximum weight on each one.
7. Install Guardrails and Shields
Guardrails can keep people from falling into openings in the floor or off the side of the loading dock. You can also install barrier rails to keep workers away from certain pieces of equipment.
To minimize the risk of objects falling from racks or shelves, install shields on the ends of aisles and rack guards to keep products from falling from the backside of the rack.
8. Report and Keep Track of Injuries
While you ultimately want to keep injuries to a minimum, it’s also important to know when they occur and under what circumstances. Encourage employees to report any incidents. Get the names of the people involved, the location in the warehouse, the time of the incident, and the details of what occurred.
Having a record of any injuries or issues allows you to track warehouse conditions and make changes to improve everyone’s safety.
Contact T.P. Supply for Warehouse Safety Supplies
T.P. Supply can help you improve safety in your warehouse with aisle shields, rack guards, guardrails and machine guarding panels. We offer used, new and reconditioned equipment, so you’ll surely find a safety solution that works with your budget. Contact us today for a customized quote.