Safety must be a priority in any workplace, and more so in the logistics, warehousing and transport sector. These are dangerous places to work in, as hazardous areas and equipment come with the territory. Here are five tips to ensure worker safety in the warehouse:
1. Identify common hazards and risks.
- Manual lifting and handling. One of the most common causes of injuries in a warehouse is improper lifting or handling of heavy equipment. Many musculoskeletal problems result from incorrect exertion. It is very important that workers observe proper ergonomic posture during lifting, pulling, or moving of loads. Extra care must be taken when going up and down industrial stairs, particularly when carrying weight.
- Forklifts. Precautions must be taken when working around forklifts. Here are some reminders by Toyota to maintain a safe forklift environment:
- Do not position yourself between a forklift and a solid surface where there is no escape route.
- Never walk under a lifted load.
- Be sure the operator sees you — make eye contact.
- Before moving around a forklift, stop-look-point at all intersections to make sure the operator knows where you’re going.
- Put your phone away. Don’t talk or text or do anything on your phone whenever around active forklifts.
- Inventory. Improperly stacked loads and stored materials pose the risk of accidental trips over passageways and drops upon a person. Keep storage organized and strategic. Remember to put heavier loads on lower or middle shelves, and remove only one load at a time.
- Hazardous chemicals. Label and seal hazardous chemicals carefully, and put them away properly when not in use. Dispose of them strictly according to manufacturer instructions.
Communicate warnings to nearby workers when a hazardous chemical is in use, to avoid their accidental exposure to it. Avoid using chemicals in enclosed places — ensure good ventilation at all times. Inhaling fumes, such as in an enclosed shipping container, can be fatal.
2. Always use safety equipment.
Do not neglect using safety gear or equipment even when you are so busy or rushing to meet a deadline. It might be your only protection from fatality. Use appropriate eyewear, gloves, and a hard hat whenever applicable.
3. Perform daily safety audit.
Toyota recommends a daily walk-around in the warehouse to keep everything in check. Aside from ensuring compliance with safety measures, this also promotes a culture of safety in the workplace.
4. Keep the warehouse environment clean.
Avoid slips, trips, and falls in the warehouse by immediately clearing spills or liquids on the floor. Make sure, too, that there are no stray cords, clutter, or cracks in passageways. Install proper guardrails where there is a large drop between floors.
5. Communicate proper safety procedures.
Provide orientation on safety procedures to new employees before they even set foot in the warehouse. Ensure that all your workers immediately receive any update on safety practices. Teach employees the consequences of unsafe work behavior, and train them to be mindful of safety at all times.
Don’t take safety precautions for granted. Remember that operations will run more smoothly in a safe and efficient environment. Make sure everyone returns home safely at the end of each shift every day.