Warehouse safety tips
Did you know that more injuries and deaths occur in warehouses than in any other kind of work environment? It's simply the nature of warehouses that they're rife with potential hazards, and therefore it's vital that warehouse safety be a top priority for all those involved in running, managing and working in warehouses.
It's possible however to reduce the incidence of warehouse accidents and injuries by taking proper safety precautions and ensuring that staff and managers are trained in warehouse safety.
The tips below are a good starting point to help you improve the safety of your warehouse and protect your workers against accidents and serious injury.
Warehouse safety tips to avoid accidents and injury
- Adhere to all relevant fire and safety codes. Every country and industry has a specific set of codes relating to warehouse safety practices, and it's vital that you adhere to these in order to create an environment that is as safe and hazard-free as possible. Not adhering to these codes could have dire implications for warehouse owners, from fines and temporary closure to lawsuits (in the case of injury) and permanent closure of the warehouse.
- Train your staff. Warehouse safety training is vital for any person working in a warehouse, and should be carried out by a qualified safety expert. It's advisable to have a test after the training course to determine whether any workers need to be retrained and tested.
- Check racking every 6 months. Damaged or badly maintained racking can result in all manner of accidents, from minor spills to severe injury. In most cases, damage happens when racks are struck by forklifts or other vehicles. These collisions can damage the supporting struts or cause the stored loads to shift, affecting the load capacity and structural integrity of the pallet racking system. This, in turn, can lead to serious accidents: breaks, collapses, and so forth. Checking your racking every 6 months is an essential part of warehouse safety, and any damaged racks should be immediately reported and repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
- Ensure proper forklift operation. In order to avoid the kind of damage mentioned above, as well as the chance of serious injury, forklifts should only ever be operated by persons certified to use them. Moreover, they should be used when paths are clear of people, equipment, stock and/or spills. Forklifts cause some of the most devastating warehouse accidents, many of which can be fatal. It's critical that these machines be operated only by skilled professionals. Ensure that you enforce speed limits for forklifts and lift trucks.
- Know how to handle hazardous materials. This applies to every warehouse employee, and should be covered during training. It's vital that these procedures be followed every time hazardous materials are handled.
- Check your floors. Make sure all surfaces are non-slip, that they are kept clear and spill-free, and that they're free of damage.
- Keep your warehouse clear of mess and clutter. Clean up any messes straight away, and don't leave any sharp objects lying around, such as box-cutters or other tools. Also avoid having wires or cords lying on the floor.
- Limit the stack height of empty pallets to six feet. Also be sure to have a designated area for storing empty pallets.
- Use mechanical help wherever possible. To limit the incidence of personal injury, train your workers to use machines to help them manoeuvre loads whenever possible. Use dollies, hand-trucks or forklifts, but make sure they're operated by skilled personnel.
- Don't overlook fire training. Place a sufficient number of fire extinguishers in your warehouse, and ensure that the path to these is never blocked. Train employees to use them, and be sure to run fire drills from time to time. Flammable items are often handled in warehouses, so banning smoking in and around the warehouse is also highly recommended.
Following these precautions is a good start to ensuring better warehouse safety. However, it's recommended that you enlist the services of a trained warehouse safety specialist to ensure that you don't miss any vital steps, and that you're in compliance with all safety codes applicable to your warehouse.
You can also start improve the safety of your warehouse right away by replacing any damaged racks with SABS-approved racks from Universal Storage Solutions. View our range of racking pallets and storage systems now, or contact us to discuss your safety concerns or requirements.