One of the most important elements of warehouse safety is adequate employee training. Brett Moody, Managing Director of Bremco, maintains that training should include basic workplace safety as well as how to operate the tools and machinery needed to keep the warehouse running smoothly.
While many workplace accidents are the result of inexperience, others can be the result of too much experience. Employees can become so comfortable after working with a piece of heavy equipment such as a forklift for a long period of time that they forget how potentially dangerous they can be. That fact became all too evident in a case in which the owner of an equipment training school was thrown from a forklift and crushed to death - during the filming of a forklift safety video.
Statistics show that there are approximately 34,900 serious forklift-related injuries and 85 fatalities each year in the USA alone. It's much more difficult to approximate the degree of human suffering associated with those statistics.
The businesses where these accidents occur must often pay heavy fines and find themselves embroiled in costly lawsuits for years as a result of that suffering. Many are driven out of business as a result. To reduce the number of forklift injuries, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now provides a useful daily checklist that can help ensure their safe operation.
Slips and falls
Slips and falls are another common cause of workplace injuries, especially in warehouses where employees are in constant motion. Taking a few simple preventive steps can reduce the risk considerably. Clearly marking elevated areas, including steps, with reflective tape is one of those steps.
Others include regular inspections for any type of potential hazards on the floor, including liquids, dark spots that can indicate slippery oil stains, loose materials or boxes. Anti-slip floor tape has also proven to be an effective safety tool.
If the warehouse has more than one floor, installation and regular inspection of guard rails is vital.
Sometimes injuries aren't caused by people falling, but by objects falling on them. The risk of being injured by a falling object is higher in warehouses, where items are stacked for storage.
When employees lift loads to a higher level, the load must be secure. While plastic wrap may be sufficient to secure lighter loads, heavier ones may require metal or cloth straps. Plastic is also affected by temperature, and can stretch when exposed to heat.
Having the right number of employees for the job is each job is also important. For example, there should always be a spotter while loads are being placed on high shelves that are not directly against a wall. Having someone to observe and direct for proper placement is the only way to avoid a precariously placed load that could fall off onto the other side.
Warehouses usually contain a number of potentially hazardous, and flammable, substances. Those substances can contribute the safety hazards such as fire and exposure. That makes regular inspections of the storage containers for those substances for leaks a necessity. Exposure to hazardous substances can result not just in temporary illnesses, but in permanent physical damage.
Electrical outlets and extension cords should also be inspected regularly in any workplace where flammable substances are stored. According to the most recent information available, electrical malfunctions were involved in 18% of the 1210 warehouse fires that occurred that year. According to statistics from the US National Fire Prevention Association, that makes it the single largest contributing factor.
Adequate safety training is essential for improving employee performance while reducing safety risks. While training can be costly in terms of time and personnel, it's not as costly as potential worker's compensation lawsuits or hefty government fines.
According to 2012 statistics, 25%, of US workplace injuries were the result of overexertion, making it the number one cause. Those injuries resulted in an estimated cost of $15.1 billion. Safety training that includes proper lifting techniques is the most effective way to reduce those numbers.
Investing in safety training actually saves money, but more importantly, it saves lives. Insurance actuaries and courts may decide the monetary value of a lost life, but for loved ones, the real value of a life is impossible to calculate.
Bremco Metal Products
1300 273 626