According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fatal injury in the warehouse industry is higher than in other industries. As such, warehouse safety should always be prioritized.
Warehouse safety refers to industry’s best practices and regulatory guidelines to create a safe environment and reinforce safe behaviors.
Why is Warehouse Safety Important?
Warehouse hazards and dangers abound, and this underlines the focus on warehouse safety.
The OSHA Standards
Safety requirements that apply to the warehouse and storage industries are as highlighted below:
- Fire safety: Written fire prevention plans should be available in warehouses with more than 10 employees
- Medical and first aid: Medical and first-aid personnel and supplies specific to warehouse hazards should be made available
- Hazard communication: Warehouse managers and operators should make the written communication programs available. The programs should be accessible to those that need them too
- Exit routes: At least two exit routes should be designed and constructed into warehouses, with both located far apart from each other and inspected regularly
- Emergency action plan: Warehouses should have in-house fire brigades or action plans to be effected in case of fires or other emergencies.
- Working/walking surfaces: Fall protection systems should be designed in warehouses to protect workers on elevated platforms.
Common Warehouse Safety Hazards and Tips
- Forklifts: Inspect forklift equipment daily for controls and equipment. Only competent employees should operate forklifts. Forklift operators should receive regular refresher training
- Conveyors: The use of conveyors should be made safe by following due procedures during repairs and maintenance. Make proper safeguarding equipment available for conveyor operators
- Charging stations: Charging stations have different power sources, like battery and gasoline, and should be situated away from open flames.
Standard ventilation systems should be available. Workers should always wear PPE equipment
- Materials storage: Passageways and aisles should be free and loans properly distributed to prevent accidents
- Docks: Serious accidents where a worker is trapped between the loading dock and forklift truck occur in warehouses. To prevent accidents, keep dock edges clear and ensure forklift operators are attentive and aware of warning mechanisms and signs.
- Hazardous chemicals: Hazard communication programs should be instituted to inform workers and management about hazardous chemicals.
- Energized equipment: Energized equipment should have lockout/tagout programs to ensure that all equipment pieces are properly turned off and accidents are minimized.
- Manual handling/lifting: Establish proper procedures as regards the manual handling/lifting of items to prevent musculoskeletal problems. Plan manual lifting/handling and consider applying mechanical tools and getting help from other people.
General Warehouse Safety Tips
Here are some of the general safety tips that apply to warehouses in different industries:
- Encourage ergonomics at all time
- Reduce fire hazards
- Ensure that sharp edges are safely handled to reduce cutting accidents
Components of Warehouse Safety Programs
- Warehouse safety rules: Includes warehouse checklists and OSHA requirements
- Warehouse safety committee: Should be made of personnel from different departments
- Warehouse safety training: Covers material handling, hazard identification, and forklift operation training, amongst others.
- Warehouse standard operating procedures: Adapted for specific tasks, procedures, and processes
- Warehouse recordkeeping and inspections: Regular checks should be carried out and records documented and maintained.
Warehouse safety cannot be overlooked because of the hazardous nature of the environment. Warehouse owners, managers, and workers should understand the importance of warehouse safety and embrace the necessary measures and methods.