With heavy equipment and numerous types of machinery required at the average warehouse, it is no wonder why injury rates among warehouse workers are quite high. According to safety data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a 5% chance of illness or injury for full-time workers in the warehouse and storing industry.
That means if you work in a warehouse, supervise one, or you own one, then being aware of the potential dangers around you is a critical component of your overall success.
Here are the most common areas in the warehouse where you should kick your safety awareness up to another level.
#1. Hazardous Materials in Storage
Almost every warehouse has hazardous materials in storage. Some of these materials are obviously marked and kept separate from the items you store. Others may not be so obvious. You will want to double-check how these commonly misplaced items are currently stored.
- Equipment fluids, such as oil, fuel, polish, and wax.
- Electronic devices not in use.
- Fluorescent light bulbs.
- Thermometers and thermostats.
- Paint products.
- Toilet bowl cleaner, rust remover, and common cleaning products.
You will want to review OSHA documentation for the hazardous materials you store. Make sure you have MSDS books present for everything in the workplace as well.
#2. Forklift Usage
The average forklift weighs more than 4 tons. It can travel along your warehouse floor at speeds which exceed 20 mph. They can make sharp turns. Their bladed arms stick out in front of the vehicle like two huge battering rams. Any of these features could compromise the safety of your warehouse.
You must have all your forklift operators be trained and certified, following proper procedures, to reduce dangers in the workplace.
For more information, OSHA has produced a powered industrial truck – forklifts guide that may be useful to review.
#3. Trips and Falls
Tripping on any object can produce an injury. Add a height problem into the mix and there is a strong potential for danger.
Tripping and falling from heights are not the only height-related safety issues to consider. With items stored in high locations, being struck by falling objects is a common injury in warehouses too.
Any worker who must work above ground level, or is responsible for retrieving items on high shelves, should be properly trained and have access to necessary safety equipment. Then ensure the floor is cleared of trip and slip hazards from the ground floor on up. Properly secure any items stored on high shelves as well.
#4. Spilled Substances
Slipping is another common safety issue which can be problematic in the warehouse. Just a splash of water out of a cup in a narrow hallway can be enough to produce a safety issue. Provide access to materials that can remove dangerous wet areas or provide a warning to employees, so they can avoid the area.
A warehouse offers dangers that go beyond what the “normal” workplace encounters. When you are vigilant in these key areas, you will be working toward a risk reduction and better overall safety for every employee.
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