The importance of safety in a warehouse can never be emphasized enough, as the very nature of this workplace is quite dangerous. There are various potential hazards for the employees, starting from an abundance of large objects, to dealing with heavy machinery. For this reason, it is crucial for an employer to make sure everything is in compliance with all the necessary safety regulations. This goes both for the actual setup of a warehouse – distances and passageways, as well for the way employees are handling the equipment and other potentially hazardous substances. Better understanding of common issues will certainly help you create a safe space for everyone.
Adequate lighting and ventilation systems
One of the most important aspects to pay special attention to is related to the visibility conditions of the workers. Having spatial awareness is crucial for numerous tasks in the warehouse, and for this reason, above all, you must ensure sufficient levels of visibility for safety reasons. Whether we are talking about providing enough natural light, installing a quality lighting system, or a combination of the two, this must not be overlooked. What the specific warehouse will need the most will largely depend on the main operation hours and the type of business conducted in it. It is highly recommended to have a professional look at your blueprints and suggest a logistical plan for the best shelving illumination.
You can use this as an opportunity to have your company go green, and install some eco-friendly light-bulbs! Not only are you eliminating the possibility of various collisions and other disasters happening, but also, your employees will be more alert and awake during their shift. If there is an option to provide more natural light somehow, it’s always smart to do so. Another important issue in such spaces, usually quite vast but enclosed, and often full of exhaust from the machinery and vehicles used is proper ventilation. You should not overlook the impact of racks when it comes to the airflow, and accordingly, make sure the air doesn’t stagnate in some areas.
Maintenance of machinery
As most warehouses operate on several levels, some heavy machinery pieces and vehicles are a must-have. For example, regardless of the type of operation, every warehouse is surely equipped with forklifts, cranes and a pallet jack, because of the shelving systems. Only certified workers should be allowed to handle those, and because of the potential problems the very nature of those implies, these machines must be regularly maintained. There should be strict procedures and lists for keeping track of exactly who is using the vehicle or a piece of equipment, and in which warehouse area.
Accidents involving forklifts are among the top three in the warehouses in general, so maintenance is equally important as proper and safe handling. You should schedule regular inspections by the experts, and not only will you ensure better safety conditions, but save money in the long run as well. Those pieces of equipment are quite expensive, and if regularly maintained and cared for, you will extend their lifespan. Checking oil levels and testing a steering wheel, lights, brakes and horns before operating them is a procedure that should be performed every time.
Proper training for your employees
Working conditions should definitely be a top priority for the employer to constantly evaluate and try to improve. Nevertheless, it is equally important to properly educate everyone who is working in the warehouse, not only about the specifics of their job position, but other safety aspects as well. Many workers can put themselves, other people or warehouse property in danger by simply not handling a vehicle by certain standards.
The simplest human error can lead to a whole rack collapsing, and for this reason, it is an employer’s obligation to provide training, and for certain jobs to require relevant licences. Therefore, seminars dedicated to safety in the workplace should be conducted once in every couple of months. If a new piece of personal equipment is added, a session on how to properly use it is a must! It is highly recommended to ask your employees for feedback, and see if they can suggest any improvements, or at least identify some problematic aspects when it comes to safety. This will also boost their morale, as they will appreciate you valuing their opinion.
As an employer, you should always look for new ways to increase safety levels of your operation, so if an option, you should try to dedicate a certain amount of time on a weekly basis to spend in the warehouse, instead of your office. It will be easier to promote safety measures and check if new markers and signs should be put with a better understanding of the processes happening in real situations, instead of only in theory. Some areas are more problematic than others, especially high-traffic ones, so make sure safety sweeps are doubled there. It is highly recommended to have a safety checklist, and appointed managers for daily evaluation.