You can help reduce warehouse accidents and injuries and protect the health of your workers by following these seven critical tips. Consider this your checklist of warehouse safety ideas to ensure you're doing everything you can to create a safe environment.
1. Utilize Warehouse Safety Netting & Pallet Racking Backstops
Falling objects are a primary cause of warehouse accidents. Fortunately, there are many safety solutions for dealing with these potential hazards:
- Pallet Racking Backstop - Also called a pallet load stop beam, this device connects to the back of your pallet rack to prevent materials from falling off the edge and potentially injuring another worker. These pallet racking backstops are best installed at the same time as your racking system.
- Warehouse Storage Rack Safety Netting - Less expensive than the pallet load stop beam, this form of warehouse safety netting has the added advantage of visibility, so workers can see the products being stored in the bay. Plus, netting won't interfere with flue space, which can be a concern with a stop beam. Ideally, warehouse storage rack safety netting will be part of your initial racking system installation if you choose netting as a safety option.
- Pallet Rack Safety Strap - Offering similar protection to warehouse storage rack safety netting, the rack safety strap is attached to the backside of your uprights to keep items from falling off your pallet. Like netting, it won't interfere with flue space. The safety strap can be added to your racking system after initial installation. However, keep in mind that while it is a popular option, the rack safety strap is not as secure as the pallet load stop beam.
- Wire Backs - Another protection against workers being struck by falling objects, wire back panels are available in a range of wire gauges that can be customized based on the size and weight of the objects you store in your warehouse. Like warehouse storage rack safety netting, wire backs enable you to view the contents of your bays while offering stronger protection.
2. Install Hatch Safety Netting to Floor and Roof Openings
Drastically reduce the risk of death or injury to warehouse workers by installing a hatch netting fall-thru protection system. If you have an opening in the floor or on the roof of your warehouse, hatch netting is a must-have. The netting protects your workers while allowing visibility. Hatch netting can be custom-made to fit either a new or existing application and is easy to install.
3. Cover Rooftop Windows with Skylight Safety Netting
Prevent one of the leading causes of death and injury by installing a skylight safety net. One wrong step could fatally injure an unsuspecting worker. Skylight safety netting is easy to install and provides a simple solution to ensure the health and safety of anyone working on a rooftop.
5. Install Effective Signage to Minimize Warehouse Accidents
Make sure you have sufficient warning signs placed at every possible location where a hazard may exist. Examples of sign messages include:
- Danger signs: For example, in areas where a forklift is in operation, posting the appropriate danger sign reminds warehouse workers to remain alert.
- Speed limit signs: Don't assume drivers will maintain a reasonable speed. Even if they don't adhere strictly to the posted limit, it's a good reminder for them to slow down.
- Traffic flow indicators: These can alleviate confusion, particularly for warehouse visitors and new workers.
Another helpful practice for visitors and new workers is to post signs throughout your warehouse designating each area. Doing this helps to ensure people stay away from places where they could sustain an injury.
6. Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Providing personal protective equipment is the first step — enforcing procedures to ensure your workers use PPE is the critical second step. To minimize warehouse accidents, all employees need to wear all protective equipment at all times, a rule that should be reinforced during employee training for everyone's safety.
The following are some examples of PPE:
- Protective Eyewear: Machines that generate dangerous chemicals, projectiles or sparks can pose a threat for machine workers and jeopardize warehouse safety. Protective glasses shield workers' eyes from potential injury from airborne hazards.
- Protective Footwear: Falling objects, forklift mishaps and other warehouse accidents can result in serious injury without the protection of adequate footwear.
- Highly Visible Workwear: It's crucial that employees stand out from their surroundings to avoid injury by others, particularly around machinery. Also, be sure to add reflective tape to work gear for dark/nighttime conditions.
- Work Gloves: A must-have for anyone handling heavy or hazardous materials, proper work gloves can prevent all manner of injuries, from minor scrapes to serious burns.
7. Appoint a Warehouse Safety Task Force
Designated first aid wardens can help mitigate serious injury by treating victims of warehouse accidents immediately at the scene. With certified training, these workers can provide potentially life-saving treatment until professional medical help arrives. If your warehouse stores flammable materials, it's also crucial to appoint a fire warden. This worker will receive certification training and be responsible for evacuating all workers in an emergency. Be sure to keep first aid kits and hazardous waste spill kits fully stocked at all times.