Keeping the employees safe and healthy should be a priority for all businesses, especially for the ones that have their staff working in a warehouse. Warehouses can become extremely dangerous places, because of moving vehicles, high shelves, human workforce, and heavy items stocked on racks. If the management does not promote and follow proper health and safety procedures, disaster can wait around the corner. Studies show that the main causes of accidents in warehouses are the vehicles that run in and around the space, the falling objects, the moving objects, the manual handling of goods, the work at heights and the slips and trips.
Safety regulations require all companies to have occupational health and safety programs. Its purpose is to prevent diseases in the workplace, and work-related injuries. All business owners and employers have the responsibility to ensure their staff a safe workplace, no matter if they are working in a warehouse or office. Depending on the size and area of the business, the scope of the health and safety program can differ.
Health and safety should not be forgotten once the legal obligations of the company are satisfied. The working environment is in a continuous change and companies should asses the risk, and adapt the health and safety policy to the present needs of the market. Warehouse operators should focus their attention on some specific aspects that require improvements.
If the warehouse works on a regular basis with heavy equipment, then it is something natural for the staff to use the devices. In terms of productivity, this is an advantage for the company, but it can become a disadvantage for the employees because they forget the danger these machines are representing.
The role of the warehouse manager is to keep the employees aware of the potential danger they face themselves when they are using heavy equipment. All the machinery should be evaluated regularly, cared and repaired.
All warehouses should feature designated traffic routes that keep the employees safe. Both internal and external routes should feature clear signage to inform the staff about the places where the delivery drivers park the vehicles, where the forklifts operate and what areas are safe for the public.
Spills and hazardous objects
The warehouse is a fast moving environment, where items and packages are transported, stored and moved, and it is easy an item or substance to get left behind and workers to run into it because they do not expect that item to be there. If the warehouse stores liquids, it is something common spills of various types to fall on the floor and to create a slippery surface. Safety signs can prevent accidents from happening. It is advisable to use them to inform the workers when a surface is wet or mopped, to keep them safe.
All the objects that can lead to tripping should be removed from the floor, especially in poorly lit areas. An important improvement brought to the storage space is the anti-slip tape that is installed on the floor and improves the grip the staff experience.
Working at height
All warehouses count on the usage of mobile elevating work platforms and ladders. The persons who control the activities performed at heights should properly plan the operations, supervise and train the employees. Only competent staff should be allowed to operate at height. A great improvement would be to use robotic arms to work at height and protect the human workforce from injuries.
Stock and equipment transport
The warehouses are located at various levels from the warehouse entrance, and it is important to improve the operations by creating a yard ramp, or even more, depending on the size of the warehouse. The yard ramp has the role to facilitate the transition from the road to the warehouse level. It is not advisable the employees to navigate the steps when they are carrying heavy items, because they are exposed to accidents. All businesses have to be prudent when it comes to the health and safety of their employees.
Depending on the specific of the warehouse, there are serious concerns businesses should focus on, if they store harmful materials or substances. If the employees are not working in proper conditions, the warehouse can be the target of an inspection.
Alongside creating a safe workplace, the company should also make sure that the employees take good care of themselves and stay in good shape. It is important for the employees to learn how to lift the items in a proper way, and not to injure themselves, because the company can be at risk of liability.
Why is crucial for companies that manage warehouses to improve the health and safety conditions?
The best way to remain competitive in the market is to have happy employees. Happy employees are motivated to work harder and complete their tasks successfully. The working conditions have a great impact on the loyalty of employees. Companies can build and maintain employee loyalty through a safe and healthy environment.
Avoid potential compensation suits and claims
If the employees get injured while working in the warehouse, they can file compensation claims and suits. Compensation claims often prove to be deadly for companies, especially if the company has neglected to offer their workers the training required by the law. Workplace injury, because of hazards and exposure to risk factors is a growing statistic. Personal injury attorneys state that the number of persons who are injured due to their employer’s poor safety procedures is in continuous growth. All workplaces come with an element of risk, but the role of the warehouse manager is to lower the hazards. Personal injury attorneys are specialised in helping the persons who suffer a personal injury and their rate of success in case of a claim or suit is close to 100%. Companies should not expose themselves to this risk.
Apart from the costs of a potential compensation claim or cost, employee injury, compensation payment, and litigation costs, the companies that have their employees injured while working in the warehouse also have to pay for the hospital, rehabilitation, medication and doctors’ fee. Often, the companies that have their employees injured at the workplace, also experience increased insurance premiums. Health and safety improvements are the simplest way to reduce these costs.