Your warehouse is a vital part of your business. You can consider it as the central nervous system of your distribution center – the place where products from supplies arrive and from where you dispatch products to your customers.
To say that warehouses are highly chaotic environments is an understatement. Filled with large boxes, heavy equipment, forklifts and more, it’s indeed a hazardous place from a safety perspective.
That said, it’s essential to maintain a safe warehouse to minimize workplace dangers and other illnesses. Here, in today’s post, we give you a list of innovative solutions to improve the safety and security of your warehouse.
Essential Guidelines to Make your Warehouse Safe
- Ensure Safe Forklift Operation
Common causes of accidents include running into shelves, toppling shelves, improper loading and unloading and even running over other employees accidentally. Forklift safety starts by providing proper training to workers who operate these vehicles. However, it doesn’t end there.
You need to ensure that racking systems are well protected by installing bumpers at aisle ends and by replacing any broken (or damaged) shelves as soon as possible.
- Safe Shelves
Storing products in your warehouse is more than just dumping boxes onto shelves. Your employees need to be aware of the weight distribution along the shelf. They must have accurate knowledge of how much weight a particular rack can or cannot take and stack boxes in the right way to ensure effective distribution of weight as well as ease of access.
Always instruct your employees not to take shortcuts when stacking boxes. Improperly stacked boxes not only run the risk of landing on unsuspecting employees but can even lead to the collapse of the entire rack.
- Pay Attention to Employee Ergonomics
Employees are more prone to making mistakes when they are mentally and physically strained. Improving warehouse practices by providing them with sufficient training is a crucial step in reducing accidents.
For instance, your workers must know the right ways to lift and carry loads. Instead, of bending down with their back, they should be instructed to bend at their knees to avoid muscle pulling and sprains. Additionally, it’s the role of the employer to teach workers about the right usage of items like ladders, flatbeds, which can reduce injury and improve productivity.
- Don’t skip over Retraining and Refreshing
Most companies provide training to new recruits. Then, they forgot all about that. Training isn’t something that is done once and forgotten. Employees are likely to forget, and workplace practices are bound to change over time.
Hence, it’s essential that you provide employees with refresher training sessions. Have a printed set of warehouse safety standards and pin it up on some place that is visible to all. Something as simple as keeping a list of safety practices pinned on the door of the refrigerator in the workroom, helps employees be reminded of safety policies.
- Loading Docks must be Safe
Loading docks are one of the zones of the warehouse that attracts high-traffic – Heavy vehicles, employees, cargo all intersect at the loading dock. This means it has a high potential for dangerous collisions if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
For instance, an employee can slip and fall if he’s too engrossed in his work and not aware of where the edge of the dock is. Sticking brightly coloured reflective tape or placing warning signs can help to reduce this issue.
Other simple ways to make loading docks safe include – keeping dock plates secures, ensuring that ladders and dock stairs have handrails, instructing forklift operators not to back all the way towards the dock’s edge, respecting weight capacities and much more.
- Weather-proof the Warehouse
Extreme weather conditions increase the dangers posed by the warehouse. During peak summer, employees may fall victim to heat stroke. To avoid this, install water coolers in the break rooms as well as non-obtrusive corners of the warehouse.
During winter, you have to strike the right balance between safety and warmth. Ensure that your employees layer up so that they can remove or add layers as and when needed. Similarly, it’s important to check whether their choice of wardrobe doesn’t impede movement and there are no loose ends that can get caught on moving machinery.
- Put Up the Right Signage
Ensure that your warehouse has the right signage displayed prominently on areas that receive heavy traffic. For instance, placing a board that instructs employees to wear a hard hat before operating machinery could serve as a crucial reminder and even save lives.
When it comes to choosing signage, ensure that it’s bold and stands out clearly from the surrounding surfaces. Emergency signage must not be hidden behind clutter and must be visible from afar.
- Allow for the Right Ventilation
Proper ventilation is essential to make your warehouse safe. Sadly, this is one of the most overlooked aspects of warehouse design. Very often, architects fail to consider ventilation while designing warehouses. In their bid to improve productivity, they forget about how racks and shelves impede or share airflow in the space.
The right ventilation not only helps in improving employee comfort but also reduces workplace accidents thereby improving safety.
Finally, Conduct Regular Safety Sweeps
All these warehouse safety tips come to null if you don’t have the right procedures to ensure that they are being followed. Assign a person or instruct your safety manager to conduct safety sweeps on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Look for potential safety hazards and ensure that all safety procedures are being followed. Prepare a checklist of what to look for. Some points to include in the list are: check whether loading bay doors are clear, floors are free from trip or slip hazards, and if corners are sufficiently illuminated.
You can even hire an external safety consultant, like Totalika to conduct a professional and comprehensive safety check of your workplace. Get in touch with our safety experts to schedule a consultation.