The importance of warehouse safety has increasingly become a relevant topic in several industries. Within the past 100 years, work organizations have provided new measures to identify and correct procedures for the wellbeing of employees. Our guide to understanding the history of warehouse safety offers a detailed look at practices used today.

What Is Warehouse Safety?

Warehouse safety involves setting rules and guidelines to identify hazards and implement the best protection practices. Accident prevention is heavily emphasized and educating employees is a priority. Expectations from appropriate clothing to outlining procedures play a role during operating hours. Depending on your organization, regulations are expected to differ, but general safety practices are always in place.

Why Is It Important?

Warehouse safety is crucial because it raises awareness about accidents in the workplace. However, no matter the number of precautions taken, mistakes are bound to happen. Luckily, when managers, supervisors, and employees are conscious of potential mishaps, it creates a learning environment fostering proactive behaviors and preventing workplace misfortunes.

Types Of Warehouse Hazards

  1. Lifting heavy items. Over time, lifting heavy items effects an employee’s mobility and body. Employees report shoulder and back pain, and injuries occur when heavy items are lifted incorrectly. Modify work tasks to minimize discomfort.
  2. Chemical and substance exposure. Depending on the warehouse, exposure to harmful compounds is common. Warehouses need to label chemicals and substances and keep them stored in appropriate areas. Wearing protective gear is also required when dealing with said elements.
  3. Operating machinery. Slip-ups happen when heavy machinery is involved. To reduce accidents, employees need training prior to operating equipment. After training, only authorized personnel can handle machinery.
  4. Fires. Warehouse fires are one of the most dangerous threats to the workplace. Among several possible threats, exposed wires, leaks, and unidentified gases are all fire hazards. It’s important to report problems to warehouse supervisors. To comply with fire safety codes and to add another layer of protection, investing in a pallet rack flue spacer is a great addition to all warehouses.
  5. Slips and falls. A common accident in warehouses are slips and falls. Spilled liquids, misplaced floor material, and scattered debris creates the possibility of injuries. Detailed procedures should be outlined.
  6. Falling objects. Stacked objects stored on high platforms and shelves are fall risks. The higher the object is placed, the likelihood of it falling increases. It’s vital to keep stacked objects secure to avoid employee injury.

The History Of Warehouse Safety

The beginning of warehouse safety dates back to 1877, around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Dangerous working conditions led to numerous employee fatalities. In response to these deaths, legislators created laws that required safety precautions. In addition, proper equipment, guards, and fire exits were mandated. As time went on, organizations such as OSHA were created to further provide resources to workplaces.

Who Is OSHA?

OSHA stands for The Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Congress created OSHA to ensure safe and healthy working conditions by enforcing standards, education, and training. OSHA strives to save lives and prevent workplace injuries by providing essential, job-related programs. Among the many programs offered, hazard communication, heavy equipment safety, and jobsite safety manuals are just some, to name a few. The goal of these initiatives is to increase knowledge and avoid preventable workplace accidents.

OSHA Guidelines and Regulations

OSHA provides the warehouse industry with detailed requirements and safety expectations. Guidelines and regulations are found in handbooks given to managers, supervisors, and employees. These guides are also available online.

Required by OSHA

OSHA supplies a pocket guide to worker safety in warehouses. The guide includes hazards and its solutions, checklists, and details on cooperative industry training. OSHA plays an active role in the safety and protection of warehouse employees. Therefore, general topics include hazard communication, material handling, and heavy machinery operation. There is also an emergency handbook. Employees can attain information and manuals from their managers and supervisors. 

Recommended by OSHA

Since its initial release, OSHA has recently updated guidelines for their safety and health programs. These updates reflect the current workplace and evolving world issues. Although clear rules are given to workplaces, OSHA has recommended practices that further demonstrates their commitment to helping organizations. Some of these practices include:

  • Monitoring performance and progress by tracking data (ex: number of injuries, frequency of reports filed, and level of employee participation during programs).
  • Identify improvement opportunities. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to correct problems in training programs and proactively seek solutions for their employees.
  • Seek input on organizational changes. Allow employees to identify safety issues and steps taken to fix them.
  • Provide additional training. Aside from mandatory sessions, workers may benefit from educational workshops that pertain to their roles.

Warehouse Safety Tips

To ensure the wellbeing of all employees, general warehouse safety tips are listed below. However, this list isn’t limited to additional rules set by organizations.

  1. Keep workspaces clean and organized.
  2. Inspect equipment and machinery frequently.
  3. Be conscious of emergency procedures.
  4. Always wear appropriate clothing and protective gear.
  5. Designate heavy machinery operators.
  6. Communicate safety hazards to all employees.
  7. Conduct additional training and reiterate safety standards.
  8. Report spills, fallen objects, and workplace threats.

Implementing a Safety Plan

Given the constant activity of a warehouse, a safety plan is vital to daily operations. However, implementing a plan takes effort on every employee’s part. The most effective way to execute a strategy is to develop a written and verbal list of guidelines and expectations. Within this list, outline potential hazards, prevention techniques, and reporting procedures. It’s also helpful to arrange visual reminders such as posters to emphasize plan details further. Ultimately, safety materials are set in place to protect workers and prevent mishaps.

Warehouse safety is an important subject that requires effort on management and employee parts. Luckily, organizations are set in place to outline the best practices and accident prevention methods. Understanding the history of warehouse safety will serve as a helpful tool to encourage industry workers to review their organization’s safety guides and create a dialogue within workplaces.

Understanding the History of Warehouse Safety