When it comes to warehouse safety, sometimes the most overlooked circumstances can lead to disastrous results or injury.
Without proper planning, training and standards in place, your facility won’t be a safe, protected workspace for your employees. Approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To keep your employees out of harm’s way and your business from losing money to workers’ compensations and lawsuits, it’s important to be continually assessing your warehouse for any potential hazards.
Here are the top four threats to your warehouse’s safety – and ways to correct them.
Unorganized Working Areas
It may be easy to ignore a messy workspace in favor of hitting a quota or a surge of productivity, but a small thing like your employees consistently not cleaning up after themselves can land everyone in hot water.
According to a 2017 Workplace Safety Index, the majority of causes for workplace injury are slips, trips and falls. This shows that it’s a proven fact that messy, unorganized workspaces are bound to create a hazard for your employees and, most likely, lead to them getting hurt.
Throughout the day, it’s easy for working areas to become cluttered, especially if there is a lack of adequate working space or no designated areas for specific tasks. Depending on your industry, there could be leftover packaging being tossed about, broken products littering the floor or accidental spills happening throughout your space. However, it’s necessary to address and correct these issues as soon as they arise, as opposed to leaving them to pile up or injure your workers.
Furthermore, unkempt working areas can also lead to lower levels of motivation at work. To keep your employees both safe and motivated, it’s important to ensure they have the proper space to complete their tasks, any necessary garments they need and the correct tools to clean up any accidents. If it helps, creating a protocol or expectation for workspace organization can help structure time into your employee’s day to clean up their work area.
Lack of Training
Safety training isn’t a one-and-done experience. As technology continues to change, all employees must be consistently updated and refreshed on safety training for their sake and the sake of other employees around them. Normally, warehouses can initially provide safety training once an employee is hired, but often, warehouse efficiency and productivity are prioritized over continued safety training.
To keep up with ever-changing warehouse regulations, it’s important to keep reviewing safety precautions and preventions with your employees, even if they’re simply brief sessions. If you have a team dedicated to warehouse safety, consider having them create a warehouse safety program that incorporates review courses and tracks your employees’ participation.
At the very least, OSHA training should be mandatory for all employees and staff members. By offering other forms of training and professional development for your employees, you can both ensure their safety and help propel their careers forward, garnering more interest in staying up-to-date on training.
A lack of proper storage is the next frequent and often avoidable hazard that can easily cause injuries. Whether items are being improperly stored on shelves or products are being moved and lifted in an unsafe way, anything from slips and falls to bruises and concussions can occur when proper item storage is being overlooked.
If your warehouse is working with dangerous chemicals, having inadequate storage can also lead to hazardous chemicals being stored incorrectly, leading them to contaminate other items.
To avoid this, you first need to confirm you have the proper amount of storage equal to the products or items you have. Next, products and loads should be placed evenly and properly positioned, with heavier loads stacked on lower or middle shelves. Your employees should have a protocol for storing and removing items, including the instruction to only remove one product at a time and that any objects that are not shaped in a way that can be neatly stacked should be housed in a container that prevents them from shifting.
Also, this more than likely goes without saying, but all of your workers and employees should be wearing the appropriate protective equipment whenever they’re in the warehouse.
Improper Lifting Techniques
Not only can injuries due to improper lifting techniques cost your company time and money due to workers’ compensation, but they can also potentially leave your employees injured for the rest of their lives.
In warehouses, back injuries are particularly serious and common, making up 20% of workplace injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These injuries negatively impact the company by reducing productivity and the high cost of medical claims, and they can often lead to lower employee morale and loss of staff.
It’s important to store products and other items in a place that does not require employees to overly strain themselves or their back and knee muscles. Consistent training also helps to ensure that employees are lifting correctly and safely. If your products are too heavy for employees to be moving safely by themselves, it may be time to provide mechanical lifting equipment, like industrial manipulators.
Industrial manipulators are machines with a rigid steel arm that allow complex pneumatic tilts and rotations. They are controlled by a human employee, and can easily help:
If your employees are constantly experiencing fatigue due to lifting heavy products, or you’ve had issues with workers’ compensation due to back injuries before, it’s time to consider an industrial manipulator for your warehouse. If you’re interested in discussing a custom industrial manipulator for your business, you can learn more about Dalmec’s manipulator solutions for every industry.
Your employees are your most important asset, and it’s imperative that they have the tools and training to keep themselves safe on your warehouse floor. By taking the proper precautions, you can ensure that your workers are protected both by physical investments such as extra storage and industrial manipulators, and safety protocol, including additional safety reviews.
If you’d like to discuss the ways that Dalmec’s industrial manipulators can assist you in creating a safe workplace for your employees, contact us today!