If your business involves running and maintaining a warehouse, you should be highly concerned with the different occupational hazards that come with such tasks. Warehouse safety is something that entrepreneurs must prioritize at all costs.
Since it’s not the usual workplace setting that comprises office desks, cubicles, and ergonomic chairs, it’s only a wise decision to pay more attention and do careful planning to keep the space safe for all your workers.
Reducing risks and occupational hazards in any work environment is already challenging enough. In warehousing, though, the challenge is made even more complex. But with proper planning, adequate training, and more precise boundaries, you’ll be able to accomplish that goal.
Here are five methods you can implement to prevent the occupational hazards of warehousing:
1. Ensure Proper Ventilation
A safe warehouse translates to having exceptional airflow through proper ventilation. Air circulation isn’t often prioritized in a warehouse setting, which shouldn’t be the case. No matter what products you produce or processes you carry out in the space, ventilation is highly critical.
Keep in mind that restricted air circulation can cause stagnation of fumes in the area. This can result in safety and comfort issues among warehouse workers and other employees who have to visit the warehouse every now and then. There’s also the possibility of compromising the quality and integrity of your stored goods, especially during extremely cold or hot weather.
To address this occupational hazard, you can put exhaust fans in different parts of the facility, regardless of its size. You can also consider installing a commercial air filtration system that can significantly help in improving the indoor air quality of your warehouse. If you don’t operate 24/7, turn off machines and other equipment that tends to heat up to let them cool off when not in use.
2. Impose Strict Implementation Of Protective Clothing
It may seem that warehouse workers only lift and stack pallets, but they do more than that in reality. With that said, they need to be equipped with suitable protective clothing while they work. As their employer, you should impose the strict implementation of such a policy, with no exceptions and no questions asked.
Everyone who gets in and out of the warehouse shouldn’t wear loose-fitting clothes that could get stuck in the pallets and machinery, which could be a recipe for disaster at any given time. Require employees to wear protective clothing when necessary, including masks, vests, protective goggles, gloves, and hard hats.
As they say, prevention is always better than cure. Wearing the right personal protective equipment and clothing can go a long way in steering clear of occupational hazards in a warehouse.
3. Identify Hazardous Zones And Make Sure Everyone Is Aware Of Them
Proper identification and differentiation of hazardous zones can greatly contribute to keeping your warehouse safe. A cost-efficient method you can take advantage of is the use of stickers and signs that are functional enough to organize your equipment and mark high-risk zones. You can also opt to label your materials, equipment, and racks so that workers can identify them quickly and prevent accidents and injuries.
There must be clear division and distinction for various zones in the workspace. For example, if you store flammable items, a restricted zone should be reserved for them, and make sure workers are aware of its hazards.
Aside from proper labeling and demarcation, you should have enough emergency exits in the warehouse. Mark the safest routes with emergency lighting to those exits so everyone can access them without difficulty in case of an emergency or unfortunate situation.
4. Provide Enough Right-Of-Way For Forklifts
Forklifts are a common sight in most warehouses. These machines are highly useful in making workflows and processes smoother and easier for workers. As helpful as they may be, though, they can also be dangerous. With this in mind, ensuring careful management and operation of forklifts is something you can’t overlook.
To start, make sure only certified or trained employees would handle those vehicles. They should have proper training and legal training and be of the right age to qualify as forklift truck operators.
Afterward, take a step back and examine the layout and design of your warehouse. Can forklifts mover around seamlessly without causing any trouble? Is there enough right-of-way for the vehicles? It’s recommended to implement a one-way system for forklifts and other vehicles being driven in the vicinity so operators don’t have to keep reversing.
However, if that can’t be helped, install enough mirrors in the warehouse and remind employees to be mindful of their surroundings. Impose a policy that requires all operators to drive at a specific speed limit. If you have enough space, designate areas exclusively for pedestrians. Put up safety signs and notices so that drivers are aware of the pedestrian lanes.
5. Keep The Warehouse Neat And Organized
Yes, a tidy workplace looks good, but more than the aesthetic factor, the cleanliness of your warehouse can do so much in improving safety. Good housekeeping is an efficient safety measure that won’t require additional costs, only extra effort on your end. The simple practice of clearing aisles can already help prevent occupational hazards of warehousing, including trips, falls, and slips.
Implement an efficient stacking system to prevent pallet racks from collapsing. The heaviest and biggest items should be at the bottom of the shelf to avoid any projectile hazard that may occur. There should also be ample spacing between pallets and racks in order for them to be safely accessed by forklifts and other machinery.
To enhance your stacking system, make it a point to consistently inspect your aisles and rack areas to identify potential hazards and address them at once.
The floor should be regularly checked and cleared of stray or tangled cords, debris, liquids, pits, and cracks. If you can’t always avoid having grease or oil on the floor, you can invest in anti-slip mats in the affected areas. Additionally, make sure there’s adequate safety lighting throughout the site. In particular, stairs and hallways should be well lit to prevent workers from tripping or falling.
Warehousing is indeed complex and tedious. Aside from maintaining it to optimize workflow and productivity, there’s also the aspect of guaranteeing the safety of everyone and everything in it. Accidents may be inevitable in any work environment, but taking the necessary steps to prevent them can significantly help your organization.
Remember: workplace safety can provide benefits that go beyond reducing the number of incidents and compensation claims your company has to deal with. More importantly, it promotes productivity and efficiency across different departments in your company.