Warehouse safety is a topic that isn’t often covered, but is still consistently important. According to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal injuries in the workplace have dropped by almost 25% over the last 10 years. Employer-reported (non-fatal) workplace injuries and illnesses have also gone down lately with an incidence rate of 3.4 cases per 100 full-time workers. These statistics are a good example of how employers are becoming increasingly focused on safety in the workplace, and they also reinforce the idea that workplace safety should still be made a priority. This issue is especially concerning in industries related to manufacturing and warehousing, which has a statistically higher percentage of workplace-related injuries and illnesses. It is very common for warehouse safety to be viewed from a managerial point of views, but it’s just as important for employees to understand why obeying safety rules and regulations is critical in the industry. Here are some safety steps we believe you should be implementing into your warehouse and manufacturing.
Make Safety Training a Priority
A large part of building manufacturing safety into company structure involves training employees on safety precautions and protocols. Utilizing regular and frequent updates and refresher courses should be included in a training program and preventing unsafe acts should be a part of the company culture. In addition to employees, visitors should also be informed on safe behavior standards if they are going to be near conveyors, forklifts, or other dangerous machinery. Considering the warehousing and fulfillment industry is surrounded by dangerous equipment day in and day out, staying up to date on your training practices, seminars, and workshops are incredibly important to ensure the safety of all employees at all times.
Keep Employees Involved in and Informed About Safety
Employers are responsible for keeping employees informed about OSHA regulations, as well as the various safety and health matter with which they are typically involved. This means that according to OSHA, employers must post occupational safety and health program information in a prominent workplace location, such as bulletin boards in the break room and near the time clocks. Another way to keep employees informed about their safety is to establish safety inspection committees. Doing so can be beneficial both to employees and management because it allows us to uncover any possible issues that may already exist in the facility as well as areas where people could be injured. Safety committees can frequently advise, evaluate, and investigate a facility’s material handling processes. They key for management’s involvement is to stay focused and set high standards for them to meet.
Ensure Employees are Aware of Their Surroundings
Of the multitude of things fulfillment employees can do to ensure they stay safe at work and make it home every night in one piece, one of the most important is to stay aware of what’s going on around them. There are dozens of precautions that can be taken, but some of the more simple and smart precautions are:
- Scan immediate surroundings above, below, in front, behind, and on both sides to identify potential hazards
- Always wear protection devices such as goggles, earplugs, gloves, hard hates, steel toes boots to keep bodies safe at all times
- Encourage others to stay aware of surroundings to ensure your own safety also
- Report near misses (or slight slip-ups) to management
- Tie off any place there is a reported issue, even it if seems silly
Build Safety into Structure
One of the best ways to emphasize the importance of safety is to integrate it into company culture. Establishing a company culture of safety should encourage workers to report unsafe conditions (i.e. unrestrained hair or too loose clothing) so they can be dealt with in a way that helps make equipment and procedures safer for everyone. This is even more important if it is coming from a CEO or equivalent leader. By reinforcing safety from the top, employees see the importance and are further reinforced to do the same.
Integrate Safety Training and Automation
We all know training is the foundation of all good safety programs as training and retaining not only reminds employees how to be safe, it also reminds them why they need to be safe. Training programs can and should be augmented by safety automation systems. This comes in two forms: safety systems (motion sensors, safety gates, guard rails…) and automation technology that makes workers safer by removing them from some of the more dangerous warehouse tasks (robotics, carousels, sorting systems…) When integrated into a well-planned safety training and safety process, automation can be a valuable asset by reducing the need for workers to be placed in high-risk areas. The advantage of this has two parts. Workers can be redeployed to areas where they can be more productive and efficient, and the importance of safety can be reinforced to workers.
Safety rules and regulations exist to protect employees from workplace hazards and allow them to be as healthy, safe, and productive as possible. The points brough up above are not all you can do to ensure safety regulations throughout your workplace, but they are important to consider and provide a good foundation.