A new year is a great time to take a fresh look at your warehouse safety procedures, perhaps do some cleanup, and give your employees a safety refresher.
- Eliminate Slip and Trip Hazards - Take a careful look at your warehouse for cords stretched across the floor, tools set on the floor for “just a second,” cracks or pits in your garage flooring, and similar hazards you may be overlooking.
- Use the Safety Equipment You Already Have - Make sure you’re using your hardhats, eyewear and other safety equipment correctly, and that it’s usable, accessible and properly maintained.
- Clearly Delineate Hazard Zones - In what areas of the warehouse should your already-alert crew be even more aware of their surroundings? One easy solution is zebra stripes (or similar, eye-catching markings) on the warehouse floor, but use what works best for your situation.
- Refresher Courses - Drill into your crew the importance of proper safety. After all, it’s not just their personal safety on the line ... it’s yours as well. Don’t foster an environment in which they’ll feel comfortable gambling with it.
- Awareness - Get in the habit of calling out your location. It could be as simple as, “Here I come,” or you could go the extra mile and be more detailed, shouting something like, “Don’t move; I’m coming up behind you.” It may sound silly, but it creates an important sense of environmental awareness among all warehouse staff, and wouldn’t you rather they sound silly than be injured?
- Housekeeping - How are materials staged? How are pallets stacked? What happens when machine oil or grease drips on to the floor? Consider applying 5S Lean, a Japanese-structured system that promotes a clean and well-organized workplace: Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.
- Flammable Liquids - How many open containers storing flammable liquids are placed on your plant floor? Are they all needed? If you can’t use nonflammable liquids to perform the same job, create policies and specific handling and storage procedures for employees.
- Sprinkler System - Is it adequately designed for the type of work you perform? Can it extinguish fires caused by the various chemicals you use? Develop a written inspection and maintenance program and test the system monthly.
- High Rack Storage - How much material needs to be stored in your warehouse? Pallets stacked over 12 feet high are increasing the fire load at your facility. Explore ways to reduce your fire load by housing only what’s needed to perform business operations.
- Workflow - How are your products made? Is the overall process streamlined on your plant floor?
You can find helpful guidelines on forklift safety, loading docks, conveyors, and more on the ISSA website here (the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association), developed by the ISSA and OSHA Alliance.
Of course, the OSHA website offers publications and training on safety as well.