According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5 out of 100 warehouse and storage employees experienced some form of workplace injury in 2015. The same source reports that 17 warehouse workers lost their lives on the job in 2013. This emphasizes a simple fact: a warehouse is a dangerous place to work. This means that warehouse safety must be a priority for every warehouse owner.
Warehouse safety comprises a set of regulatory guidelines and industry best practices that ensures a safe work environment for warehouse personnel. These guidelines assist workers in understanding their environment better while reducing the risks of potential warehouse occupational hazards.
These hazards, namely physical strain, falling objects, exposure to harmful objects, trips and falls, etc., are common accidents in warehouses that could severely compromise the health of workers, but also affect productivity levels at warehouses.
Employers of such workers may be subject to scrutiny from organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),sometimes leading to hefty fines in cases of mismanagement or negligence.
Why is Safety Important in Warehouses?
Maintaining safety measures in your warehouse is essential for injury prevention, increased productivity, workers' loyalty, and improved quality in the warehouse.
Let’s break down the top 4 benefits:
Prevent Workplace Accidents
According to the US Department of Labor, slips, trips and falls are the second-highest cause of workplace accidents. This is common in warehouses where forklift crashes, slips, trips, falls, exposure to hazardous materials, and falling items have resulted simply from inadequate safety measures.
Improve the condition of floors and walk places by:
- reducing uneven grades and slopes,
- cleaning any oil leakage on the floors, and
- removing debris and clusters .
These practices can help prevent or minimize such warehouse accidents.
Establish a Culture of Safety
Working in warehouses means exposure to various everyday routines and equipment, which can lead to workers' comfort and complacency. However, maintaining a healthy workplace culture that emphasizes the importance of safety helps avoid the risk of workers underestimating potential workplace hazards that can lead to injuries or death.
Enhance Workers' Loyalty
Safe employees are loyal employees. By maintaining proper warehouse safety measures, workers can feel safe and secure within the warehouse. This will in turn deepen workplace trust and loyalty.
Reduce The Risk of High Fines
Warehouse accidents arise mostly due to factors like a violation of safety standards and lack of enforcement of safety measures. It, therefore, becomes important to implement warehouse safety measures, as due diligence in safety protocols could reduce your fines in cases of injury claims.
Warehouse Safety Tips
From the above, we can agree that implementing warehouse safety measures should be the primary concern of every warehouse owner. Warehouses play vital roles in the distribution chain, and the lack of proper safety measures can disrupt the chain, leading to avoidable delays and economic losses.
Here are 6 safety tips that will quickly improve your warehouse safety:
- Determine Forklift Paths
An important safety tip for any warehouse is defining the pathways for forklifts and jacks. Forklift crashes are leading causes of warehouse accidents, which can be avoided by making sure their paths are clear and defined. In some cases, their courses would need to be simplified and adjusted to avoid tricky turns, low visibility, and human error.
- Keep Your Warehouse Organized and Tidy
Another vital warehouse maintenance tip is to keep the environment clean and tidy. Ensure regular and proper disposal of refuse, and keep surfaces clean and arranged. Design and implement a Warehouse Traffic Management Plan that includes warehouse signages such as speed limit signs, danger signs, traffic flow indicators, etc.
This will synergize with the OSHA-required 3 Meter Safety Rule to prevent accidents around plants and equipment.
- Provide Adequate Lighting
Poor lighting increases the risk of accidents from slips, trips, and falls in warehouses. All stairs, walkways, ramps, dock areas, and basements should be well-lit to prevent accidents.
Employees must turn on the lights whenever they enter a dark room. By implication, warehouse operators should ensure that light switches are placed near the door, and all light bulbs, light fixtures, and cords must be repaired immediately upon developing any faults.
- Allow Only Certified Personnel to Handle Equipment
Most warehouse equipment requires expert management. It is vital to ensure that only qualified personnel handle such items to avoid accidents arising from improper operation of equipment.
- Cover Rooftop Windows with Skylight and Hatch Safety Netting
If your workers will be on roofs, installing a skylight safety net will help prevent one of the leading causes of workplace deaths - falling through open windows or skylights. One misstep would injure an unsuspecting worker, but not with a skylight safety net in place.
The safety netting is easy to install and offers a simple solution to ensure that warehouse workers on rooftops are safe. Similarly, install hatch safety netting to floor and roof openings, especially if you have an opening in the roof of your warehouse.
- Provide and Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Warehouse workers without PPE are prone to burns, blisters, and cuts. Personal Protective Equipment such as fitted work gloves, high-visibility safety vests, hard hats, boots, etc., should be provided to workers to wear at all times while at work.
For housekeeping staff, safety glasses and closed-toe shoes are crucial PPEs, while workers handling hazardous materials should have their gloves, glasses, and masks.
Optimize Your Warehouse Safety With Work-Fit
Warehouse accidents are the highest they've been in 12 years, but that's not where the story ends. Today, many warehouses have had to ramp up production due to staffing decreases and injury claims arising from warehouse accidents. This doesn’t have to be your story.!
Work-Fit is a leading onsite injury and telehealth prevention and wellness management program for your warehouse. We partner with you and your workers to build a positive, secure, and safe workplace. Contact Work-Fit today and let's make your warehouse a safer environment.