From falling objects to fire to exposure to toxic substances, many accidents are waiting to happen in a poorly managed warehouse. Every day, fatal injuries occur within these massive facilities. The only way to prevent employees from getting hurt is for everyone to be informed, alert and compliant to all the approved safety procedures. Here are three of the most common causes of injuries to watch out for.
Falling objects strike warehouse employees every day. So to keep warehouses safe, it’s important to cover all the bases: infrastructure, equipment, working system and employee training.
If you’re storing on uneven surfaces, there will always be a risk of objects falling to the ground so invest in adequate infrastructure for storage. It should be even, stable and strong enough to support the weight of the items. The use of high-quality lifting cages also matters. They will not only make stacking and storage easier but also significantly reduce the risk of employees being hit by an item from above.
It should also be mandated that warehouse staff and operators wear hard hats and protective equipment as an added precautionary measure. There ought to be regular inspection of pallets and shelves. Finally, a good warehouse should be designed in such a way that objects are seldom moved around. Frequently retrieved objects must be placed in the most accessible areas to avoid unnecessarily handling of other objects.
Other than arson, the top three causes of fire within storage facilities are hot work activities like welding and cutting, problems with the electrical distribution system and the contact of two or several incompatible chemicals.
To start with, coordinate with the local fire protection agency for an assessment of risks. Hazard hunts are effective ways to find accident-prone areas and working conditions within the warehouse. Once the areas at risk have been identified, the fire bureau can help your team develop a post-fire safety procedure. This fire-fighting plan should be complete with announced and unannounced fire drills to ensure employees don’t panic during an emergency.
Employees should also be trained to use fire-fighting equipment like fire extinguishers. Finally, your warehouse team should make it a habit to practice good housekeeping.
Hazardous materials are items capable of causing harmful physical effects like explosion, sudden release of pressure and acute health conditions like cancer and organ damage. Examples include solvent-based paints, garden chemicals, batteries and old computer equipment.
A warehouse that is compliant with safety standards should be able to identify and document all hazardous materials, which can be raw or finished goods, stored within the facility. The next essential step is to adhere to government regulations on how to handle these dangerous materials properly.
The Hazardous Waste Act of Australia is a good reference for understanding the proper handling of hazardous materials from transport to storage to disposal.
Safety equipment and procedures come with costs, but they are well worth the investment considering the lives and valuable property that can be saved in an accident-free facility.