Your staff are vital to the successful running of your business, and keeping them safe should be at the top of your priority list. According to WorkSafe Victoria, “workers in warehousing have a higher than average chance of being seriously injured at work” – and “almost 70% of these injuries are caused by hazardous manual handling and slips, trips and falls.”
Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to let safety procedures slide, especially when things get busy out in the warehouse. Is that because safety accessories and checks seem to get in the way of getting the real work done?
We have to remember that safety is part of our job. And with injuries resulting in an average of four weeks off work, putting the right plans in place now, could save you time and money down the track. Not to mention, prevent serious injuries.
To help you improve your warehouse safety we’ve created a handy guide.
1. Identifying hazards: performing a safety assessment
The warehouse can be a busy place, and each one has it’s own set of challenges and risks to navigate. To create a safety plan, the first thing to do is identify all potential hazards. For example, a set of steps with no handrail or a cord running along or near a walkway, these could both lead to someone tripping and falling.
For each potential hazard, think about the measures you can take to remove the danger or reduce it significantly.
It’s also important to consider that other potential hazards will arise in the future. As items are moved around in the warehouse or new equipment is introduced, new hazards can arise. It’s important to empower your staff to report any new potentially dangerous areas or items.
Remember: IDENTIFY > ASSESS > REMOVE OR CONTROL
Learn more about conducting a safety inspection, here.
2. Remove and clear paths of hazards
Slips, trips and falls are a common cause of injury in the warehouse, which is why it’s extremely important to keep pathways for pedestrians and forklifts clear. Cleaning up the warehouse should be something that is done as you go, and anything that requires specialised attention, should be reported immediately.
Some items or areas may need special equipment to remove, like cracks in the floor or spilled chemicals or oil – this area should be blocked immediately and plans put into action to clean or repair the area as soon as possible.
3. Provide safety equipment
There are a number of accessories and attachments that, when used properly, further protect our staff over and above the careful use of equipment. For example, adding safety guards to fork trucks and machinery or railings to stairs and mezzanine floors, and emergency stop functions on motorised equipment.
Those working in a warehouse should also wear appropriate safety accessories, which may include:
– Protective eyewear/goggles
– Hard hats
– Face protection
– Closed toe shoes/work boots
– Hi-Vis clothing
– Earplugs/industrial ear muffs
4. Install safety signage
Clearly labelling hazardous items or areas in the warehouse, and marking out safe walkways for pedestrians, helps to remind your staff to take the appropriate action or wear the appropriate safety accessories. It also helps to inform visitors of any potential dangers when entering your warehouse. The suite of safety signage required in each warehouse will be unique to your own set of circumstances. Click here to enquire.
Additionally, safe load signs for pallet racking are required to ensure your staff are adhering to the engineer’s guidelines for the shelving in your warehouse. Find out if your load signs are up-to-date by booking a racking audit, click here.
5. Clear communication of safety guidelines
When it comes to safety procedures, safety signage isn’t enough. And as every workplace is different, all staff should be trained to understand the hazards in your warehouse and how to minimise the risks associated.
Training should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure all employees are aware of the risks in their surroundings and how to reduce the likelihood of causing injury to themselves and those around them.
Promoting safety in your warehouse also shows that you value your staff by looking after their safety and ensuring they get home to their families each day.
6. Annual Pallet Racking Inspection
It is recommended, and required by Australian work safety guidelines, that your warehouse shelving is inspected every year. A qualified engineer will be able to pick up small damage to racking and repair it before it becomes a danger to your employees, and not to mention avoiding it turning into an expensive exercise to have it replaced completely.
A rack inspection will also ensure your pallet racking safety signage is up-to-date, ready for any WorkSafe inspections.
For more information on rack inspections and to book, click here.
7. Train staff on safe manual handling techniques
Lifting, moving and twisting while holding heavy items can put a huge amount strain on our bodies, and can cause serious injuries either instantly or over time. To reduce the risks when picking and packing products out in the warehouse, staff should be informed to recognise when something is unsafe to lift or carry, and employ safe manual handling techniques if moving materials about in any way.
There are also a number of materials handling accessories and equipment available to help avoid or minimise the impact on our bodies – these include picking trucks, conveyors, forklifts, trolleys etc.
For more information on safe manual handling techniques, click here.
8. Maintain forklift training
In any warehouse, a fork truck is considered the most dangerous piece of equipment. Collisions with pedestrians and incidence with forks tipping can and continue to cause serious injuries and even deaths in Australian Warehouses.
Ensuring your staff are regularly trained on the appropriate operation of a forklift and ensuring that forklift licenses are kept up-to-date, will help to significantly reduce the risk of operating forks in your warehouse.
Read more about reducing the risks of forklifts here.
9. Review your plan regularly
To ensure your safety plan meets current Australian safety standards, it’s recommended that you regularly review it, especially if there are any changes made to your warehouse. This will also take into consideration any new potential dangers that may have originally overlooked or even introduced since the last inspection.
For more information on work safe guidelines, click here.