Warehouse Basics: Keeping Your Workers Safe

Occupational_Safety_EquipmentWarehouse accidents are still a major problem in some parts of Australia. Over 90 Australians were killed while at work as of July, 2014. If this trend continues, almost 200 will die this year. That’s a staggering figure, considering the improved safety standards and modern industrial safety technologies. Still, something more can be done – perhaps something low-tech.

Identify All Major Risks

Identifying all of the major safety risks sounds like a difficult job, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, you need to be thorough, but often times the major risks will jump out at you pretty quickly if you’re paying attention to what’s happening in your workplace. Injury records are a good place to start looking. Isolate where most of the accidents appear to be happening and then work to figure out a commonality between all of them.

For example, if you notice that a lot of employees are getting injured on the loading docks of your warehouse, you have evidence that something is happening. You could further investigate and discover the details of the accident. Perhaps there’s an uneven loading surface where people are tripping. That’s an easy fix.

Perhaps there’s a discrepancy between the height of the truck and the loading platform. That is also an easy fix.

Assess How Risky It Is

Not all risks are equal. If there’s a shortage of signage in your janitorial department, they may not be able to put down enough signs to warn people of wet floors. Someone could slip and fall and injure themselves. However, the solution to a problem like this might be to get more signage or have the janitorial staff slow down their work schedule so that they aren’t cleaning such a large territory.

If a work area is inherently dangerous, however, then you might need to take more drastic measures like moving workers out of the area, redesigning entire systems or even the building itself.

Implement Basic Safety Protocols

Basic safety protocols will go a long way towards ensuring worker safety. Using safety mirrors in combination with bollards, for example, can make a huge difference – especially in high-traffic areas or areas where visibility is severely limited.

Bollards are fixed pillars or beams that are typically grounded in cement. Usually, there are arranged in a series and act as a sort of open barrier to prevent machines from moving into certain designated areas.

They are designed to protect workers from things like forklifts, trucks and other heavy machinery where machines and humans must work together in the same area.

Mirrors, a low-tech solution, can provide significant safety for workers working inside and in areas where visibility is low.

For example, if workers must work outside, near buildings, and there is heavy machinery nearby, an angles or quarter mirror can help you spot trucks or heavy machines around the corner.

Mirrors can also alert individuals to oncoming machines that they may not see inside, around corners, or in areas where walls and dividers block visibility. The low cost of these safety devices should incentives any employer to invest in them. There’s just no reason not to.

Control The Risks

This is sometimes easier said than done. However, there are several ways to effective control risks that will not compromise worker efficiency. One way is to modify the risk. For example, you could change the shape of bulky objects so that they are easier to hold onto. You could also modify equipment so that it is easier to use.

Yet another way to modify risks is to change the workstation setup – move the physical arrangement of the workspace. Change from sitting desks to stand-up desks, for example. Offer workers multiple ways to work so that they’re not stuck standing or sitting all day long. This will reduce repetitive motion injuries and sprains.

Change lifting dynamics, reduce bending requirements, make lifting things easier with straps or machinery, and continue to evaluate how workers use the tools available to them in the workplace.

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