Protecting employee safety is an integral part of warehouse management. Safety is something that all warehouse employees consider at one point, though it's up to warehouse management to ensure safe working conditions and proper training.
The rise of eCommerce is prompting a greater demand for warehouses, where inventory from major retailers resides. Unfortunately, warehouse worker deaths and injuries are higher than average compared to other industries, inspiring many in the industry to look for better ways to keep their employees safe. Some ideas include:
Warehouse and facility design should strive to promote safety. Forklift crashes and falling inventory account for many workplace injuries. Still, design can help prevent these instances. An impact-absorbing pedestrian barrier can help define traffic routes and protect employees if the impact is imminent through deflecting and cushioning the impact. In addition to making warehouses safer, pedestrian barriers can also result in lower repair costs and less downtime.
The incorporation of automation into a warehouse does not have to involve firing human workers. In reality, warehouses can incorporate automation without replacing a single person, especially when it comes to the replacement of certain elements to increase efficiency and safety. For example, a warehouse can replace a manual power jack with an electric jack to reduce the need for human workers to engage in potentially dangerous situations with risk of electrocution.
Train employees to enhance their awareness so they can better avoid common injuries like slips and falls. Guard railings between large gaps can help prevent slips and falls, which are the most common accidents in a warehouse, though it’s also important to acquaint employees with potential hazards even with preventative railings in place. Online warehouse safety training is also an option.
Awareness training can also entail teaching warehouse employees how to stack objects properly. Stacking on high platforms poses a danger to all employees, since a single box out of place can fall at any time and result in a fatal injury. It's also important to acquaint employees with OSHA rules, such as protection is a requirement for workers operating above four feet.
Since slips and falls are the most common warehouse injuries, it makes sense to ensure that the warehouse undergoes cleaning regularly. Loose material like sawdust can contribute to falls, as can moisture. Mop up moisture and sweep up loose materials to significantly reduce the chances of injury for warehouse employees.
Mark Fire Exits
Fires can occur in even strongly-regulated environments, so it’s always prudent to prepare for the worst. Mark fire exits clearly and acquaint employees with the proper protocol in case of a fire. Follow all fire extinguisher laws and provide fire drills routinely, in addition to ensuring that you replace worn and exposed wires.
Employee safety is essential for warehouses to function with efficiency and care. The nature of warehouse work, such as stacking boxes and moving quickly around confined quarters, can result in several situations that present opportunity for injury. Fortunately, warehouse managers can heed these opportunities to provide a safer environment for their warehouse workers, a win-win for all involved.
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