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7 Ways To Ensure Workers Stay Safe In Warehouses

7 Ways To Ensure Workers Stay Safe In Warehouses

According to OSHA, there are over 12 fatal injuries a day that occur in warehouses.[1] While that number might not seem significantly large, the significance lies in more than the number to families who lose their loved ones. Fathers will never see their children again, husbands will never again be with their heart-broken wives – loss is loss and is felt deeply and needlessly in a lot of these instances.

The warehouse is no place to goof around and I’m suspect that you (hopefully) already know that. In fact, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) discovered that ~621,000 workers had non-fatal work injuries in the year 2015/2016.[2]

Remember the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure”? That’s as true today as it ever was. Sadly, we seem to live in a world where people would rather focus on an accident after the fact instead of preventing it in the first place (I personally don’t understand the logic behind waiting until it’s too late).

Let’s take a look at seven of the safest ways to put an ounce of prevention in ensuring the safety of warehouse workers:

1. Keep Things Clean

Hands down, the best way to keep workers safe is to keep the warehouse clean. This is a no-brainer, right? Yet, it’s a huge problem in most warehouses.[3] A great way to prevent mishaps like this is to make cleaning mandatory.

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If your warehouse has a metal machine that leaves metal shavings behind after use, make it a rule that machine operators must clean up their own mess. Also, several garbage cans placed throughout work areas with heavy foot traffic are more economical than having a team of broom-pushers.

It’s relatively easier (and saves more time) to clean up spills, accidents, and messes as they happen. Otherwise, once everything is “saved” and piled up to be tackled all at once, the task may seem like a chore and be counter-productive for morale.

An easy way to implement this cleaning agenda is to create documentation and schedule calendar-specific tasks. These can be completed on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly basis.

Shipping doors, loading bays, and work cells are vital areas to be kept clean and free of “floating” garbage.

2. Label Everything

Be sure to clearly mark areas that are being cleaned. It’s easy to use anti-slip marking tape wherever you can. It also helps to keep aisles decluttered as often as possible.

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Anti-slip marking tape can be picked up at most retail outlets (which, in all probability, used to be a warehouse). Simply grab a dozen rolls or so and write them in easy to see areas with warning messages on them.

3. Use Provided Safety Equipment

For some reason, a lot of people (workers and non-workers) don’t enjoy using safety equipment. Remember feeling “uncool” for wearing a helmet when you were learning how to ride a bike?

This mindset hasn’t changed in a lot of people.

Still, wearing hardhats in the work area saves lives. Period. Make no bones about it, using the safety equipment that’s provided does its job. They keep us safe so we can stay out of the hospital (or worse, an early grave).

Workers who don’t wear the mandatory eye-wear for jobs meet their maker. There are dozens of other reports about injuries in the worksite, warehouse, and other industrial jobs. You can only read so many death reports before getting the main idea: staying alive means being safe.

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4. Re-Organize Pathways

Containers, boxes, and lumber need to all be stacked in their proper place – and with good form. Remember, an unstable foundation will mean the rest of the stacks aren’t technically sound, and will eventually tip over. Products and packages that topple over and crash onto workers are the most common form of warehouse-related accidents, so make sure items are stacked properly.[4]

Another step to take to ensure the protection of warehouse workers is another simple one, but is a huge doozy. The simple things are often the most necessary, and the most vital. It involves any vehicles and machines. If you have machinery that’s mobile, keep it to the loading docks and/or outside, away from the main workers who are on foot. This will greatly reduce workplace injuries.[5]

5. Replace and Upgrade Lighting

LED lights are all the rage these days, as they are drastically cost-effective. Not to mention, they’re tremendously brighter than regular incandescent lightbulbs or CFLs. Even special-grade, industrial-only LED floodlights can be installed throughout the warehouse.

Why are LEDs superior to any other bulb? The main reason is that they emit a whopping 6,000 Kelvin, which means they’re whiter than the day itself.[6]

When it comes to knowing your way around, lights are bar-none the clearest way to ensure people know where they’re going, whether they are halogen or LED lights.

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6. Hold Team Meetings

This is one of those areas that should go without saying, but sadly must be said. Each week, a team meeting must be held. These are golden opportunities to keep everyone fresh on the warehouse changes that took place over the week, such as inventory changes, filing system changes, etc.

Keeping people aware and up-to-date on these changes will keep them safe because they will know to watch out for such changes. It’s like being told which street an expert marksman with an M16 is trudging down, and then not walking down that street.

Team meetings held weekly should be mandatory, if not habitual. Have trouble making it a habit? Starting habits aren’t as difficult as some people think.

7. Know Workers’ Rights

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created guidelines for a reason: to keep people safe. In 1970, they passed a bill into law that effectively said workers have the right to know.

What do they have a right to know? Everything about the job they’re being asked to do. According to OSHA’s guidelines, workers have the right to:

  • Be trained in a language they understand
  • Work ONLY on machines that are proven safe
  • Be given mandatory safety gear (like gloves or harnesses)

These are just a few helpful suggestions you can utilize, today, in your warehouse. Safety is (and should be) the number one priority, in any workplace and office. Certainly, some methods may be more time-consuming and it’s easy to want to cut corners, but why? Doing so plays with peoples’ lives.

Featured photo credit: pashminu via pixabay.com

Reference

More by this author

Maya Levine

Passionate Writer & Researcher

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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