Implementing warehouse safety strategies has numerous advantages that are often not acknowledged. When safety procedures are well implemented there are major benefits such as higher worker satisfaction, lower injury and accident rates, as well as increased productivity.
By minimizing the risk of injury, fewer workplace disruptions take place and absenteeism associated with injury is also reduced. Equipment downtime is another factor which can be avoided through the appropriate use of safety procedures.
Under the WHS laws workplaces are responsible for providing:
- a safe work environment
- safe systems of work
- safe and well-maintained machinery
- proper information, training and supervision.
With regards to warehouses, a combination of these safety principles of risk management and an effective traffic management plan, can help reduce the risk of forklift-related injuries and accidents.
Warehouse Safety Steps
Here are safety steps that could assist warehouse safety management:
Utilise safety resources to prevent workplace injuries and accidents
To ensure safety, workplaces are to provide resources to mitigate and prevent unsafe work conditions. In warehouses, where there is the movement of heavy loads of various shapes and sizes, it is vital that forklifts or hydraulic jacks are used to lift items that are too heavy or awkward to handle manually.
Installation of various resources that are part of the emergency evacuations and fire plans such as emergency exits and the sprinklers are essential and required by laws. However, it is imperative that the workers should be aware and educated on the emergency evacuations plans and procedures. It’s important too that workers are aware of the use and locations of the sprinklers that are installed in the roof and to ensure they are compliant with the building codes regarding the clearance required for the egress.
Other forms of resources that are essential to ensure worker’s safety is the provision of appropriate PPE such as: safety boots, eyewear, gloves and hard hats which must be worn where and as required.
Manage the common hazard to prevent slip trip falls
Slip trip falls are a common hazard in warehouses, where forklifts are in use and cause significant injuries. Many forklift-related injuries involve slips, trips and falls when getting on and off the vehicle.
To prevent these types of injuries workhouses must ensure forklifts have:
- adequate access and egress to provide three points of contact (hands and feet) while getting on and off
- steps with anti-slip surfaces and enough space to stand on firmly
- grab handles or rails that allow proper grip, and are positioned in an accessible location
- suitable locations for controls and foot pedals to eliminate trip hazards
Warehouses should also ensure that the floors are free of ‘slip and trip’ hazards. It is important that safety check are carried out on a regular basis, by all workers, and that the floors are always free of stray cords, liquids and any other potentially hazardous items. It is essential that any cracks and pits in the flooring are attended to as these can cause serious injuries to workers, as well as, causing damage to expensive machinery.
Ensure Warning Signage is Erected in Hazardous Areas
Safety Warning signs communicate important instructions, reinforce safety messages and provide instruction for emergency situations. Workplaces have an obligation under Work Health & Safety Legislation to use signs where practicable to highlight serious hazards or risk in the workplace.
Signage is essential in identifying areas where dangerous equipment should be stored away, while safe walk zones should be highlighted through illuminate hazardous zones using tape or painting black and white stripes on the floor of the designated area. This enables workers to be aware of dangerous surroundings and can be useful in avoiding accidents that can cause serious injury.
Ensure Correct Load Handling Techniques
Firstly, ensure that a Forklift is designed to lift or suspend the load to be lifted. The lifting attachments must be suitable for the load and within the safe working limits of the forklift.
Before a load is transported, firstly assess what method is the best option for its movement. If lifting is the most suitable method; check the route to ensure no obstacles are in the way and ensure there is enough space for the load at its destination.
Safe lifting techniques should always be carried out and the load should not obstruct the view of the lifter. Use all materials handling equipment carefully and follow the proper operating procedures including push rather than pull, whenever possible and lean in the direction that is being travelled.
Also, never drive a forklift or use other powered equipment without training or authorisation.
Provide ongoing and updated safety training and instruction
Ensure all workers are educated and up-to-date with knowledge about safe practices within the workplace. This allows for greater adherence to procedures as worker will be completely aware of the consequences that can result from an unsafe workplace. Accidents most commonly occur when corners are cut in an attempt to save time. If workers and management are completely aware of the repercussions that can arise from this fact, procedures may be followed more closely.
Empower workers and encourage regular communication to ensure safety
Having a sense of awareness of hazardous conditions in the workplace, is an important safety factor. This can be achieved through empowering workers and encouraging collaboration and communication between their teams. In warehouse environments, by workers giving warning signs, vocally by yelling out to others in their location, collision incidents can be drastically reduced. When carrying items or driving machinery, a simple verbal warning can alert other co-workers of their whereabouts and can allow them to steer clear of dangerous pathways.
All workers should be encouraged to be constantly aware of what’s around them and to communicate where they are to ensure collision accidents do not occur.
Safety should always be a priority in the workplace.
Whilst the principles outline the strategies in managing risk in warehouses and workplaces, a combination of the relevant and effective traffic management plans are essential in achieving the best outcomes. Implementing Safety equipment and safety procedures to minimise workplace injuries and accidents may be time consuming to initiate, however, they are great benefits in the long run.