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A well-organized warehouse

The warehouse industry is constantly evolving. New methods of storing, shipping, selling, and delivering items are implemented often.  Yet, one constant is the idea that warehouses need to be kept safe for the employees who are working to distribute products and goods around the world.  

While some safeguards may come as a no-brainer, we’ve listed some “need-to-know” factors that should be kept top of mind when it comes to warehouse safety.

If you’re new to the world of warehouse safety or want a refresher on the basics, you can reference our list of frequently used warehouse terms as you work your way through this guide.

Warehouse Safety Hazards

What is the hardest part about managing warehouse safety hazards?

The hazards are everywhere.

Warehouses, even relatively small ones, have countless moving parts. These moving parts, to name a few, include:

  • People
  • Heavy machinery
  • Inventory
  • Racks
  • Docks
  • Workstations

While these moving parts may seem harmless at first, a busy warehouse can easily turn into a danger zone. These inner workings of a bustling warehouse present substantial safety threats. Those threats may be avoided by following these tips: 

  • Follow signs and signals – They are there to use as a guide and to help avoid mishaps.
  • Remain alert – Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay visible – Wear a high-visibility vest and use designated walkways.
  • Stay clear of the forklift – Keep clear by watching for warning lights, warning sounds, and warning markers.
  • Never walk underneath a raised forklift load – This probably goes without saying, but we’d like to go ahead and say it anyway.

The tips mentioned above are applicable whether you are a pedestrian, a forklift operator, a supervisor, a dock worker, or a human resource representative. These basic guidelines will keep you safer in any warehouse facility and help you avoid injury and prevent near misses.

Warehouse safety guidelines might require employees to wear hardhats

Common Warehouse Injuries

Though prevention is key, warehouse injuries occur daily. Some of the most common include:

Most of the injuries listed aren’t fatal. However just because an injury isn’t fatal does mean you should celebrate. That near miss of the pedestrian by the forklift driver or the employee who nearly got their hair caught in the conveyor could be a serious or fatal injury next time.

Back injuries are common in warehouses
Average Cost per Medically Consulted Injury is $42,000
Source: National Safety Council
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Warehouse Safety Standards

As a warehouse manager or employee, you know that safety is paramount to success. But how do you ensure that your facility is up to par with industry standards? The answer lies in warehouse safety standards – a set of guidelines and regulations designed to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on the job.

OSHA and The Warehouse Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to ensure safe working conditions for employees in the United States. OSHA oversees warehouse-specific regulations such as:

OSHA enforces safety standards and regulations, provides training to owners and employees, and investigates workplace accidents.

Methods to Improve Safety Standards Within the Warehouse

Training sessions, equipment demonstrations, and safety protocols are par-for-the-course as it relates to safety fundamentals. But here are additional methods that, when combined with the basics, will greatly improve safety statistics.

Audits help identify potential hazards and areas of improvement by regularly reviewing equipment and company procedures.

Encourage and reward employees for practicing safe work habits and reporting all safety concerns.

Work with agencies, like OSHA, to ensure your warehouse is always in compliance with safety guidelines. This keeps your warehouse up to date with all changes to those guidelines.

A warehouse operations manager is responsible for warehouse safety

Quick note: Seasonal workers typically work only during summer or holidays and therefore may not have much experience in warehouse environments. Ensure they are proficient in proper lifting techniques, understand the importance of hydration, and know how to use personal protective equipment before allowing them to hit the production floor.

How to Report Unsafe Working Conditions in a Warehouse

If you encounter unsafe working conditions, report them as soon as possible by taking these steps.

  1. Inform your supervisor – Report the danger immediately.
  2. File a complaint – If a supervisor did not take appropriate action, file a complaint with OSHA.
  3. Contact the Union – Union members can contact their designated representative.
  4. Document the hazardous conditions – Include date, time, and location. If you’re able to, take videos and photos.
  5. Follow Up – Speak with the party to whom you reported the issue to ensure it is resolved.

You have a protected right to a safe working environment. Exercise that right anytime you or anyone else is in danger.

Warehouse Operations and Safety Management

Warehouse operations and safety management are vital for success in the logistics industry. By streamlining processes and prioritizing safety, you enhance productivity, cut costs, and boost employee morale.

Warehouse Floor Markings and Safety Signs

Warehouse markers and signs assist in keeping all employees safe inside and outside the warehouse.

What Are They

Markers include colored tape, paint, lights, and other materials to indicate aisles and walkways.
Signs include caution, warning, and other symbols alerting employees to potential hazards.

Where to Place Them

Markings and signs should be in high-traffic areas, loading docks, storage areas, hazard zones, emergency exits, and intersections.

Why You Need Them

Markings and signs provide visual cues that help everyone safely navigate the facility. They also help prevent damage to equipment and give clear directions for material handling and storage.

Use Safety to Your Advantage: Increase Efficiency and Profitability

Employees are safer when the facility is organized, and vehicles and equipment are properly maintained. As a result, the warehouse should see higher efficiency and profitability.

For instance, uninjured employees are less likely to miss work, reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.

Morale also tends to be higher when you aren’t frequently hearing about or seeing unnecessary injuries.

Warehouse Organization

An organized warehouse streamlines things for maximum productivity. The nuts and bolts of efficiency through organization include:  

  • Identify hazards and/or potential hazards
  • Quickly resolve hazardous issues.
  • Use easy-to-understand signage/instructions
  • Implement a structured storage system
  • Make sure walk paths are clear
  • Use proper lighting
  • Preserve equipment
Organization is imperative for a safe warehouse

Warehouse Equipment: Maintenance and Inspection

Having equipment that is not well maintained can seem like cost savings in the short term, but it becomes a burden on the company wallet in the long run.

Properly maintained equipment reduces lost time. If your forklifts and tools are always available when needed, efficiency increases.

That’s why it’s important to conduct regular inspections and maintenance. Daily equipment inspections are a great way to stay on top of things. These inspections can:

  1. Prevents equipment failure – saves on costly repairs and downtime
  2. Improves efficiency – well-maintained equipment can consistently operate at prime levels
  3. Increases lifespan – regular inspections and maintenance catch issues early, reducing the need to replace equipment.

An organized, safe, and well-run warehouse is a thing of beauty. Likewise, there are several critical elements needed to sustain a fully safe warehouse or industrial facility. SynTech has over 40 years of experience making work sites safer, and we are the #1 provider of the HIT-NOT proximity detection system.

Protect your people and property. Contact the knowledgeable SynTech team at (256)571-5024.

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