It’s always important that the employer makes sure that their worksite is safe for their employees, but, the truth is that in some spaces it’s not all that important. There’s just not that much to be said or done for a place that’s not all that dangerous! There are, however, some sites that do carry risks that need to be taken seriously. A warehouse is one such example. Because of the heaviness of the items, the bulk, and the tasks of the workforce, there’s always a chance that something will go wrong.
It is possible — and is, in fact, your duty — to reduce the chances of any accidents occurring. This can be achieved by taking a little bit of time and care; we show you how below.
Identify the Risks
Before you can plot a safe path towards a safer environment, you need to check where you currently are. Take a look at your warehouse, and identify any areas that might pose a danger. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then look at hiring an outside specialist to do the job for you. Sometimes, it’s only after something bad has happened that we realize just how obvious the risk was. By taking a close look at the dangers posed, you’ll be able to handle any issues before they have the time to do any of your employees any harm.
Train Your Employees
Sometimes, it’s not the processes and items of your warehouse that are dangerous; it’s that they can become dangerous once an employee is engaged. Therefore, your first line of defense against anything going wrong will be your employee training. You should never take for granted that something would be common sense; these things are only obvious if you know them. For all aspects of safety, make sure you’re ensuring that your staff is well-trained and knows the correct way to act. This shouldn’t just be a one-time thing, either — you’ll want to hold refresher courses every few months. If everyone on your team understands the safe way to act, then you’ll significantly reduce the chances of an accident, most of which are caused by human error.
The Right Tools
If you have the right tools for the job, then you can further reduce the chances of something going wrong, and someone getting injured. Lifting, for example, is one of the most dangerous aspects of warehouse work, so do your best to remove that danger. Instead of making your employees lift goods that need to be weighed, you can buy heavy duty scales that can be kept on the floor. It’ll be much easier to weigh those heavy goods with that type of scale, rather than one that’s off the ground. A forklift truck is also recommended, then you should make sure that your staff have been properly trained on how to use it.
Clearing the Space
Of all the ways that a person could injure themselves in a warehouse, there are none quite as frustrating as an everyday trip. These can be very dangerous — even deadly — yet they’re entirely avoidable. If you have a cluttered space, then you’re asking for trouble. When people are in the groove of working, all it takes is one small item to be left out, and there’s a potentially dangerous situation. It can be a little bit annoying to be forever checking that everything is orderly and so on, but it’s not something that’s negotiable. This is also something you should tell your staff.
Automate Dangerous Tasks
There’s been a lot of chat about automation and the effects it’s going to have on warehouse work. It’s possible that some of the chat is overblown. Automation will likely not replace all workers (or at least, it shouldn’t), but there is a gap that it can fill: it can handle the more dangerous tasks. For example, if retrieving items from the top shelf is too dangerous, then automation and other technologies may be able to help. Tasks related to any sort of manufacturing processes that may also take place in your warehouse should also be automated.
While the immediate dangers of your warehouse should be identified and nullified, it’s also important that you keep an eye on the long-term dangers that your warehouse presents. For example, think about the ways in which your workers conduct their work: are they able to do so using the correct body positions and so forth? If not, look at changing how they work so that they don’t suffer from health issues further on down the line. Two other problems are related to ventilation and noise. A lot of dust and debris gets thrown up in a warehouse environment, and without proper ventilation, it’ll end up going straight down into the lungs of your workers. To handle the noise issue, you’ll want to keep any loud processes kept away in a soundproof room, and offer your workers earplugs.
Humans are not machines, and shouldn’t be treated as such. They’re not able to work until the drop; they get tired just like every other human. It’s when the energy levels begin to drop that danger kicks in, however. If a worker is fatigued, they’ll be much more likely to make a mistake that leads to an accident. It might be a mistake they would never usually make! So make sure you’re treating your staff well, and giving them plenty of breaks. Some bosses prefer to ask more and more from their staff, incorrectly believing that they’ll earn more profits. It’s not true: when workers are tired, productivity goes down.
The thing about warehouse safety is that it’s not something you can just let run on autopilot! Make a habit of routinely reviewing and updating your working practices. The goal is to reach a stage where the chances of anything going wrong is next to impossible! It might take some time to get there, but commit to making safety a priority, and you’ll eventually reach that place.