Reduce Risk and Manage Warehouse Dangers by Working Safely
Each year, companies across America spend millions of dollars and lose thousands of man hours in industrial accidents. From minor slips and falls to tragic loss of life, these accidents disrupt the efficiency of your workers and can destroy their morale.
As an owner or manager, you need to understand potential warehouse dangers so you can prevent accidents and create the environment you and your employees need.
Identify Common Warehouse Hazards
Each warehouse comes with a unique set of challenges. From machinery to high-traffic locations, there are many ways for employees and visitors to get hurt on your premises.
Consider holding monthly training meetings to educate and remind you employees about the areas of your warehouse that could potentially injure or harm them. Read below to see a list of the most important areas you should include.
Each warehouse is different, so the needs of each will change depending on its individual function. Most warehouses, however, use the forklift.
This piece of machinery has many different looks and classifications, but many aspects of the forklift remain the same. The forklift uses a mast to raise and lower heavy objects. Due to the weight of some of their loads, these and other lift trucks use counterweights that balance the vehicle.
Most forklifts and lift trucks have an overhead guard to protect the driver. This reinforced canopy protects drivers from falling objects that could injure or maim them.
Lift trucks allow for workers to perform heavy-lifting tasks that would be impossible without modern machinery. With this benefit, though, comes risk. An operator must use forklifts properly, or they become increasingly dangerous.
Whether your location only uses pallet jacks or takes advantage of hoists and bridge cranes, makes sure your employees know how to safely use each piece of equipment on your premises. You can avoid workplace injuries and workers' compensation lawsuits in the process. It is very important to have proper operator training and required OSHA inspections.
Another common warehouse tool is the conveyor. There are four main types:
When using a conveyor, people tend to incur the most injuries when they clean the machine or attempt to remove debris. Often clothing or a body part becomes lodged at a nip or shear point. You can find this danger zone where two rotating pieces meet.
Require your employees to avoid loose fitting clothing or dangling jewelry while working on or near any conveyor.
As part of your ongoing safety meetings, train your employees to handle conveyor injuries. Accidents can happen, even if you have trained your employees on prevention methods. Therefore, they need to be able to deal with mishaps quickly and without panic. This will limit the damage to property and life.
Some companies use dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. When properly handled, these chemicals remain perfectly safe. When handled improperly, however, these chemicals may cause problems as mild as skin irritation or as final as death.
Each chemical should arrive with a medical safety data sheet, or MSDS. This provides your company with important information about the chemical, including:
- Information about the manufacturer
- Identity of the chemical
- Chemical and physical characteristics
- Reactivity information
- Instructions on how to handle the material safely
In addition to the listed information, a MSDS will also provide you with information on how and where to store this chemical.
As a manager, you should familiarize yourself with all the chemicals your facility uses, stores, transports, or manufactures. This will prepare you to handle chemical accidents as they occur.
Each year hundreds of people receive injuries while working near or on a loading bay. To prevent these injuries, take the necessary precautions to ensure safety.
Loading bay safety begins with your bay doors. Make sure to keep bay doors secured when loading and unloading cargo. An unsecured door can come crashing down, and, depending on the size of the door, lead to a great deal of damage.
If you use loading bays to ship and receive from long-haul trailers, require the trailer drivers to properly secure their trucks. This will prevent the truck and trailer from accidentally moving during the process.
Finally, keep your loading bay safe by ensuring your workers communicate with each other. As your employees' awareness increases, they decrease the likelihood of accident or injury.
Decrease Accidents by Increasing Awareness and Response
As part of your monthly training meetings, create an inventory of your warehouse's danger zones. Walk through the facility with your employees, and place signs to indicate the at-risk areas. Some of the signs you might consider include:
- Flammable signs
- Speed limit signs
- Reminder signs (honk your forklift horn when making blind turns, for example)
- Hazardous chemicals/equipment room signs
Make sure your employees know where to find wet floor signs and how to clean spilled chemicals.
By holding monthly training meetings you can equip your employees with the necessary knowledge to prevent accidents and boost morale.