Dukes of Hazardous
What are the most common warehouse risks--and how can you prevent them?
For all the work that goes into preventing them, the majority of warehouses share many of the same safety hazards.
Due to the way warehouses handle items and process shipments, many of their workers are subject to similar risks for injury and product damage. While this can seem like an unending cycle of danger, there’s plenty of ways to mitigate these more prominent ones and keep everyone and everything in your warehouse safe from harm.
We’ve pulled together five of the most common warehouse hazards your warehouse is most likely to encounter, and some tips you use to prevent them.
The Hazard: product congestion
Let’s face it, warehouse space is tight. Much like a traffic jam, if you have a lot of pallets, packages, and unsold inventory all fighting for the same limited space in your warehouse, these products can create walking, tripping or even fall hazards if not properly contained. They can cause forklifts to swerve, which can cause many types of dangerous accidents. You don’t want to create even more obstacles for those workers trying to find ways to be more efficient. Clutter is unsafe in general, and specifically unsafe in warehouses.
The Solution: better inventory management
By providing enough warehouse storage for everything you have to stock, you can help prevent these pileups. By providing storage in areas that need it the most, you can ensure areas like shipping and receiving have more room to move ( say, by having enough wire shelving to hang onto your items before they get officially sorted out). Another effective solution would be using pallet racks as well to prevent item pile-ups. Find ways to ensure that overstocks do not sit on floors, and that you have enough reserve areas or staging space to handle them if it’s common and unavoidable.
The Hazard: improper lifting techniques
Warehouse hazards aren’t limited to physical impediments like spills and cables. One of the biggest health and safety risks a warehouse worker can face is improper lifting techniques. Bad form while lifting and moving heavy objects can lead to back injuries, knee failure, or worse. Lost time for workers can affect many areas of your time management and efficiency.
The Solution: Proper lifting equipment and training
Proper equipment to aid your employees in lifting can make a huge difference. Lift Tables, for example, offer a versatile way to improve ergonomics while increasing efficiency. Workstations, particularly those used for packing products prior to shipment to individuals, can provide a large range of ergonomic enhancements. Posting guides on how to lift more safely and ergonomically (or, in extreme situations, hosting a training day where everyone is taught the proper methods first-hand by an expert) will go a long way towards helping encourage safer lifting.
The Hazard: slips & falls
OSHA states that 15% of all accidental deaths inside warehouses are caused by slips, trips, and falls, second only to motor vehicle accidents. These accidents are especially tragic as they can be easily prevented with the right precautions.
The Solution: Safety solutions and a clean facility
Whether a fall from a ladder or a trip while walking the floor, most slip & fall accidents in warehouses are caused by cluttered floors and unattended spills. You want your workers trained with the right mindset for using ladders in the warehouse, so having a safety plan for ladder use is the right call. Anti-Slip Mats are a low-cost way to avoid many slips in dry or wet areas of your warehouse. Make sure all of your workers take constant vigilance to keep their work areas clean and free of obstructions like stray boxes, spilled soda, and the like. If necessary, schedule a daily cleaning regimen to ensure your workers devote the time to this practice that it deserves.
The Hazard: hazardous materials accidents
Many facilities often encounter their fair share of hazardous materials, whether through shipping them or requiring them to clean up and/or handle other materials. And while you may expect large-scale spills to be the biggest culprit, most hazardous material accidents are the result of smaller leaks that get worse over time.
The Solution: spill control equipment and training
There is useful equipment that can help with spill control and safe dispensing, such as a drum management system. While these types of products are helpful, you must have proper training so all employees are on board. Make sure to formulate a careful plan to handle all hazmat incidents, and provide the training and equipment your workers need to carefully handle any spills as safely as possible.
The Hazard: improper machinery use
From forklifts to powered conveyors, even to industrial fans, a huge source of injury in warehouses is due to incorrect usage of heavy machinery. These accidents are among the most dangerous in the industry and can lead to serious injury or even fatalities, not to mention the high likelihood of property damage.
Well-placed machine guarding can also help prevent accidents ranging from improper use to flying parts.
The Solution: eye-catching accessories and better worker awareness
From forklift warning lights to gates you can use to decrease traffic risks, to conveyor safety additions, there are avenues to help make the machinery in your warehouse safer. Once again, though, safety training is a must. Make sure all workers are given up-to-date information on how to use the bigger machines in your warehouse at regular intervals, keep all needed information clearly posted safely nearby, and make sure first aid kits are provided in the event of an accident.
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