Despite the apparent order, working in a warehouse is not exactly the safest place on earth. There are many dangers lurking around the corner. That leads to certain warehouse safety topics that you simply can’t afford not to discuss with your team of employees. Here are ten important topics that you should cover:
Warehouse Safety Topics:
- Loading DocksThis is a broad topic that involves a variety of tips related to working with loading docks, without a forklift. It is important to remove one object at a time from shelves and also place heavier loads on the lower or middle shelves to avoid too much strain on your spine.Another important tip is handling objects that stand in your way. Many people often kick them out of pathways when the proper way to do it is pushing or carrying them out of the way. Unpacking the crates is also an operation that exposes people to injury because of the nails and staples that keep them together. So removing such sharp objects is always a priority when unpacking the crates.Overhanging items from shelves into walkways are also a potential danger as is cutting shrink wrap in front of your eyes or your co-workers. These may seem obvious, but routine often drives people away from maintaining warehouse safety through these very simple rules.
- Hand Truck OperationsLoading hand trucks is potentially dangerous in many ways. Loads must be placed in such a way that they do not fall or slip and must also be secured when possible. Hand truck operations must also consider placing heavier loads underneath the lighter ones. The tongue of the hand truck needs to go all the way under the load for safe operation.The position in which the load is pushed is also very important; the actual weight should be carried by the axle and not by the handles. Try to avoid blind corners at all costs and if your visibility is obstructed get a spotter to guide you. Storing a hand truck with the tongue facing pathways is not a smart idea; the tongue should go under a shelf, pallet or table during storage.
- Lift Table UseLift tables should be manoeuvred by certified operators only. When loading, the operator should make sure that they do not exceed the manufacturer’s load rated capacity. Lift tables are not to be used for transporting people unless specifically designed for this purpose. When used properly, lift tables can increase the safety of your employees by making heavy loads easier to transport or by positioning product in a more ergonomically correct way.
- Hazardous MaterialsThis is one of the most important warehouse safety topics that you need to discuss with your team. Following instructions on the label is essential when handling chemical products. Using personal protective clothing or equipment is also crucial especially for chemicals labelled as flammable, caustic, poisonous, or corrosive.It is also important that the protective clothing or equipment is thoroughly inspected before use and checked for split seams, cuts, tears, pin holes, and other signs of damage. These are just a few tips that you should share with your warehouse team, but there are many more and you should have clear instructions for handling all types of chemicals.
- Forklift SafetyAll warehouses have forklifts and operators must be certified in order to be allowed to manoeuvre them. You need to talk to your team about these warehouse safety topics that allow forklift inspection, forklift maintenance and operation without complications. Topics should cover loading docks, driving, lifting, stacking one load on top of another, safety rules, putting a load down, picking up a load, starting the forklift and pre-use inspection.
- ConveyorsConveyors are found in many warehousing and distribution facilities. Workers can sustain injuries when caught in pinch points or ingoing nip points; struck by falling products; or when they develop musculoskeletal disorders caused by repetitive motions or awkward postures.To promote conveyor safety, a number of related topics should be discussed, including the regular inspection of conveyors using a detailed checklist; colour coding buttons to ensure easy accessibility; training employees on procedures to lock out the conveyor; properly guarding all pinch points, including drive belts and drive sprockets; providing sufficient lighting and working surfaces around the conveyor; and installing protective guarding on the sides or beneath the conveyors, such as netting, to prevent products from falling on pedestrians – especially paths with high foot traffic.
- Material storageThe standard operations of a warehouse include receiving products and materials, storing them, and then retrieving them for transport to another location. The movement and storage of product poses risks to your employees and concerned entities. To improve productivity and safety, you should place loads directly on the racking, preferably straight and evenly. The heavier loads should be kept on lower shelves, and the aisles and passageways kept clear. It is also important to inspect all pallets as they arrive and remove the ones in poor condition.
- Charging stations for equipmentProvided your warehouse has powered equipment, there must be a recharging or refuelling station within. The common sources of power included compressed natural gas (CNG), liquid petroleum gas (LPG), diesel, gasoline, and battery, all of which pose risks for fires and explosions if proper guidelines are not followed.As such, you should prohibit open flames and smoking in and around the charging areas; keep the fire extinguishers fully charged; ensure proper use of protective clothing; ensure that the area is well ventilated; and ensure that there is an eyewash unit in the area that can provide 15 or more minutes of continuous running water.
- Fire safetyWarehouses are usually protected from fires by automatic sprinkler systems. But management should ensure that all products in storage, as well as the potential causes of a fire can be extinguished by the system in place should a fire occur. One important fire protection measure is to store flammables and plastics according to code, since plastic fires tend to be too hot for some sprinkler systems. Also, inspect fire hoses, extinguishers, fire alarms, and sprinkler systems regularly, and perform text and drills monthly.
- ErgonomicsErgonomics should be discussed in order to avoid dangerous habits such as repetitive motion and improper lifting that may lead to musculoskeletal disorders. Discussing ways to improve ergonomics can make the job less stressful for your employees, improving productivity. Good practises include using powered equipment to raise heavy objects; storing items that need lifting high enough so employees don’t have to bend; educating employees on proper posture; and providing sufficient overhead lighting for the task at hand.