According to OSHA, there are over 12 fatal injuries a day that occur in warehouses. 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.
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. A great way to prevent mishaps like this is to make cleaning mandatory.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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
|||^||OSHA: Worker Fatalities Reported to Federal and State OSHA|
|||^||HSE: Statistics – Workplace Injury – All Industries|
|||^||Pathguide: A Clean Warehouse is More Efficient|
|||^||Forklift Certification: 7 Preventative Steps Will Decrease Workplace Injuries|
|||^||Health Day: Behind the gleaming aisles of consumer goods is a world of forklifts, slippery floors, and accidents waiting to happen|
|||^||Angie’s List: Which Headlights Shine Best?|