More than 145,000 people work in warehouse settings across the United States. And due to the unusual combination of potential safety hazards that tend to exist in warehouses, the industry has the dubious distinction of an injury and fatality rate well above the national average.
Here are five key areas that pose potential warehouse safety hazards – and how to prevent incidents from occurring:
Knowledge is power. More importantly, knowledge is safety. Make it company policy to train warehouse employees on a regular basis – at least annually – about safety measures. Be sure this includes interactive, hands-on experience.
Clutter, spills and messes are among the leading causes of warehouse accidents. Your warehouse should be neat and clean. Every day. Without exception.
- Safety from the ground up. Be sure all floor and walkway areas are free of clutter and spills. No materials, products or components should be left on the floor.
- Prevent injury from power cords or hoses. If you must run them on warehouse floors, use heavy-duty cord covers to prevent trip hazards or run-over damage.
Personal Safety and PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety measures covering every employee are life savers.
- Enforce a strict dress code. Prohibit loose clothing or unsafe jewelry. Long hair must be safety tied back. PPE should include steel-toed shoes and, if necessary to your specific environment, hard hats and/or safety goggles or glasses.
- Watch for worker fatigue or dehydration. This can occur any time of the day or during any season of the year. Allow employees to take rest breaks and cool down or warm up as needed. Provide hydration in the form of water and reasonably-priced or free Gatorade.
- Remember PPE at battery-charging stations. Face guards, gloves and other protective garb protect drivers from exposure to acid or other harmful chemicals.
Enforce strict guidelines for transporting, using and storing all materials – especially hazardous ones.
- Establish all other warehouse guidelines with these protocols in mind.
- Make sure all materials are stored straight and even to prevent tipping.
To optimize forklift safety:
- Require that drivers use seat belts.
- Limit speed limits to 5 miles per hour.
- Never allow a forklift to be operated by a worker who has not been properly trained.
- Never allow use of a damaged forklift.
- Keep aisles and roadways clear, with plenty of space for lifts to maneuver.
- Enforce a zero tolerance policy for stunt driving or horseplay.
- Never allow a forklift to back up to the edge of a loading dock.
- Require pre- and post-use checks of forklifts, including signed documentation.
OSHA offers a comprehensive guide to warehouse management and safety in its Pocket Guide to Warehousing, available at www.osha.gov. For additional tips and resources, contact the expert staffing and HR management team at CPS and Professionals Inc. If you are looking for manufacturing recruiters in Syracuse, contact us today.