Following safety techniques is important in all workplaces, but it’s especially critical in a warehouse. This environment presents numerous safety threats. There are 5.5 workplace injuries recorded for every 100 full-time workers in the warehouse industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are five specific ways to improve safety in your warehouse.
1. Protect Employees From Falls
Fall protection — General Requirements was the most frequently cited OSHA violation in 2017 with 7,216 violations that year. So, this is one of the first issues you’ll want to address. This begins with using guardrail systems, safety nets and other fall arrest systems when employees are working at heights of six feet or more. You’ll also want them to wear slip-resistant shoes to ensure stable footing.
2. Follow Shelving Best Practices
With employees frequently loading and unloading items from shelving bays, the possibility for injuries is always present. Therefore, it’s critical that employees:
- Know how much weight each section of shelving can hold
- Don’t stack boxes excessively high
- Properly distribute the weight
- Don’t take shortcuts
3. Use Ladders Correctly
Improper use of ladders was another frequently cited OSHA violation at number six. Ladders should only be used for the purpose for which they were designed. Portable ladders should extend at least three feet above the landing surface to ensure stability. They should also be routinely checked for any defects and immediately be repaired if there are any issues.
4. Instruct Employees on Proper Ergonomics
With employees often lifting heavy items, it opens the door for strains, sprains and other accidents. Everyone should be instructed on proper ergonomics, which can include:
- Bending at the knees rather than the back
- Positioning the body so an employee doesn’t twist or extend beyond their reach
- Placing frequently used items in a location that can be easily accessed between an employee’s knees and shoulders
- Using mechanical equipment when handling heavy items
For a comprehensive list of warehouse ergonomics, check out this guide from EHS Today.
5. Keep Work Areas Clean
Spilled liquids, debris and other materials in paths and walkways can all create major safety issues. So it’s crucial these areas are consistently cleaned and any obstructions removed. You may even want to create a checklist that holds employees accountable for cleaning tasks during their shift.
Warehouse safety is something to take seriously. Focusing on these five areas should help you run a tighter warehouse, keep everyone safe and make them more productive.
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