Product Reviews Blog

Is Your Warehouse As Safe As It Could Be?

Marcus Williams - Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Make your warehouse as safe as it can be.

If you are responsible for the safety of warehouse employees, the first step towards reducing the number of injuries is to become aware of what types of accidents most commonly occur. Even though the overall number of work related injuries has been reduced by more than 60% since 1970 when the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) was passed, the remaining number of incidents is still staggeringly high.

 

Naturally, poor safety records lower employee morale as well as overall productivity, which leads to reductions in company profit. Additionally, the average direct cost per work related injury is estimated at $38,000, with $150,000 more for indirect costs. With these figures in mind, it becomes obvious why keeping a tight watch over safety conditions is so important not only for employees, but also for the company's bottom line.

Manual Material Handling Accounts for Nearly Half of All Injuries

Injuries to the back and/or shoulders represent nearly half of all warehouse injury claims. However, these injuries can be avoided through education and adjustments to the facility that promote greater ease in handling materials. Employees should regularly be reminded of the correct methods for lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing and/or pulling materials, and should not be encouraged to handle loads that make them uncomfortable.

Ergonomic Warehouse Designs Minimize Injuries

In addition to proper education, one of the best ways a company can minimize the risks of manual material handling injuries is to redesign the facility in an ergonomic fashion. This means storing heavy items and those most frequently handled between knuckle and shoulder height to eliminate the need for the repeated bending movements, which are frequently responsible for back pain.

 

Although some companies may be fearful of the upfront costs of such adjustments, creating a more ergonomic facility is likely to save money by reducing the number of accidents which occur in the first place. Workers who have been injured previously may also be able to return to work when they are provided a more ergonomic environment.

Make sure to reduce mechanical handling errors.

Mechanical Handling Accidents Can Be Fatal

While less common than manual material handling accidents, incidents involving forklifts tend to be far more serious and sometimes fatal. In 2011 alone, 25% of the 20,000 total forklift related accidents involved overturning of the forklift, and 100 people were killed in those incidents.

 

If your facility shows regular injury reporting scores that are higher than average, you can be sure that those ratings will not only affect employee morale, but also result in increased insurance premiums. These increased expenses can make or break a company with an already thin profit margin.

Safety in the Docking Area is Critical

Because of the sheer drops, increased traffic, obstructions, and other potential hazards, the loading dock requires special attention to safety details. The following ideas will help minimize dock area dangers:

 

  • Keep the area brightly lit at all times.
  • Use tape or paint to indicate staging areas, aisles, and loading lanes.
  • Adopt a maximum height for all stacked materials, such as pallets.
  • Visually inspect the inside of all tractor trailers before entering with a forklift.
  • Maintain forklifts according to manufacturer's recommendations.

Respond Appropriately to Injury Reports

Criticizing an employee who has been injured on the job not only creates unnecessary tension in the workplace, it also indicates an unhelpful denial regarding your facility’s substandard safety practices. By responding to an injured employee in a compassionate manner, that employee is likely to return to work more quickly while you as a manager or warehouse owner will have the opportunity to learn what you can do to increase safety within your facility.

Create A Safety Oriented Workplace Culture

Employees will naturally want to improve the safety of their work environment, but when additional incentives are put into place to encourage compliance with safety policies, you are even more likely to see a reduction of workplace injuries. Some companies offer employee bonuses or sponsor celebratory gatherings once a particular safety goal is met.

 

Strategic placement of safety signs can help remind workers of the risks involved as well as the necessary safety precautions. Clearly posted signs should also indicate the location of the nearest exit, eye wash station, fire extinguisher, and other safety equipment. Establishing a safety committee can also help ensure that proper safety guidelines are being followed.

Make sure that there are regular workplace training sessions.

Establish Regular Workplace Training Sessions

Creating a regular pattern of workplace training sessions can help keep important safety guidelines fresh in the minds of warehouse workers. Utilizing interactive teaching methods and pop quizzes keeps your employees aware and involved. Frequently requesting input on any safety matter which may concern employees is known to improve injury statistics. Be sure to create an environment where workers feel safe to share their concerns without fear of reprimands.

A Safer Warehouse Benefits Employers and Employees Alike

In the majority of cases, the number of accidents in a warehouse facility can be significantly reduced through proper employee education and incentives as well as a careful assessment and correction of any hazardous situations within the workplace. Lowering the number of injuries in your warehouse will go a long way toward improving the overall job satisfaction of your employees, while also reducing your insurance premiums and helping you to avoid costly fines. Don’t delay in implementing comprehensive safety practices in your facility today.