A warehouse can be a dangerous place where any number of things can go wrong. There can be falling hazards from overhead, unsecured racks, spilled liquids that can cause workers to trip, and heavy machinery that may become out of control.
Worker safety starts with knowing the common warehouse safety hazards and to be on the lookout in case something seems to be out of order. It is important that every employee is trained to spot these dangers and has the knowledge to handle and report these situations.
Fostering this culture of vigilance and safety should be at the forefront of every warehouse managers’ mind. It will not only keep workers safe, but also keep materials, equipment, and even the warehouse itself from coming to harm.
Be Aware of Slipping and Tripping Hazards
Slips, trips, and falls can happen anywhere in the warehouse for any number of reasons. Depending on what is being stored in the warehouse, there could be a liquid leakage in a container where small, loose materials may spill out.
This can go undetected by workers who may inadvertently walk into them, causing them to slip and fall. These can usually be found during transit into the warehouse and fixed immediately. But if they do go unnoticed, proper lighting can help to identify them earlier.
Having a dedicated spill and clean-up station is also one of the basics for warehouse safety. Have this station open and easily accessible for any employee to aid in clean-up time. When more people have access to the clean-up station, they will more easily take it upon themselves to clean spills that they spot before anyone else.
There is always the risk of falling objects when working in a warehouse. It is simply the way of things when stacking up items on racks that are above peoples’ heads. This risk can be mitigated in a few ways, both lowering the risk of falling objects and resulting injuries.
Stacking objects properly, with the heaviest ones on the bottom and the lightest on the top, is the first and more obvious solution. But to go beyond that, installing pallet rack backing will secure items on racks and keep them from falling out the back.
If materials do fall from the racks, you may make it mandatory to have all workers in the warehouse wear hardhats to protect themselves. While not protective against enormous loads, it will greatly protect against smaller materials that are more likely to fall. It protects the skull and absorbs most of the impact from objects that pose a falling hazard.
A fire is one of the most dangerous and devastating accidents that can happen to a warehouse. Fires pose a threat to workers and buildings alike and may result in fatal injuries. Clearly labeling flammable materials and keeping them in safe locations is the first necessary step. Keep them away from all fire hazards or any other substances or chemicals that may cause them to explode.
Make sure that your fire sprinkler system is efficient and operational, and that it covers areas with high risks of fires. Blockages in the pipes can lead to faulty sprinkler systems that may fail when they are needed the most.
Stocking the warehouse with easily accessible fire extinguishers is also one of the best solutions to fighting warehouse fires. It makes it so fires do not become out of control and, much like spills, any employee who is present when a fire breaks out can do something. Others may not be in the area to notice, so having clearly marked extinguishers can save lives.
Make sure that workers know how to use these extinguishers and where they are in the warehouse; this will also aid in fire protection. The locations of fire extinguishers should be covered during employee orientation.
Or, if the sprinkler systems and the fire extinguishers are not enough to control the fire, then implementing a fire alarm is the final step to ensure worker safety. Make sure that all are working in proper order and that the alarm can be clearly heard no matter where a worker is throughout the warehouse.
Planning and practicing a fire-exit route is also important. Make sure that workers are somewhat habituated to the route and will not panic when the need to use the route occurs.
Lack of Training
One of the most common warehouse safety hazards is a lack of training. This can come in the form of not knowing the correct safety procedures or how to properly operate machines. The safety procedures can be any of the ones listed above, whether it be workers not knowing fire exit routes, what to do when they spot a liquid on the floor, or not adhering to wearing a hardhat while on the warehouse floor.
Lack of training can also come with not knowing how to operate electric pallet jacks, forklifts, or electric pallet stackers. Improper use of these machines can result in damage and negatively affecting the wellbeing of workers.
There are several ways in which operating machinery can go wrong. Workers not trained in their uses may walk under a pallet stacker while it is extended or possibly drive the extended pallet stacker into a rack, a lower part of the ceiling, or a light fixture.
If machinery hits racking, it could become unstable and collapse. This falling hazard can crush nearby workers and prove fatal. If the racks are housing flammable materials, then a fire could start along with the collapse.
Training is the key to safety in the warehouse. You can have all the equipment and safety procedures to cover every possibility, but if workers lack the training or knowledge to use them properly, then they will go to waste.
Training is the number one way to prevent accidents in the warehouse—an educated worker is a safe worker. Not just for themselves, but for everyone around them working on the warehouse floor.