As a warehouse manager, what is the most critical factor for you, safety or productivity?
Well, the obvious answer is both, isn’t it?
However, some warehouse managers often mistake the two as mutually exclusive and forgo even the most basic safety measures in favour of gains in productivity.
When working within a potentially dangerous environment with large machinery, heavy pallets and racking, safety should be the priority. According to an HSE survey, injuries and health concerns due to incorrect working conditions cost companies £14.3 billion in 2016/17.
Are the perceived gains in productivity really worth it when you consider the cost of neglecting safety?
Our actionable list of tips puts your employees first, so they are comfortable with working longer where necessary, safe in the knowledge their well-being is taken care of.
Without knowledgeable and competent employees, the whole system breaks down. Accidents happen when an employee takes on a task or uses a piece of machinery without adequate training.
For this reason, ongoing development should be a priority from the moment an employee starts their first shift. Regular refresher courses mean that everyone on the floor is on the same page and everyone knows who is in charge of what and more importantly who shouldn’t be using what.
Health and safety is important; however, it is possible to go too far in the wrong direction. Overly strict rules or unnecessary ones can lead staff to deliberately ignore them. It's essential to communicate precisely why these rules are in place, and sometimes a bit of leniency where appropriate can lead to higher morale levels.
PPE - Everyone on the floor, whether employee, manager or supervisor should be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Machinery- In addition to correct PPE, every employee should be provided with up-to-date equipment for their particular position.
For example, your warehouse is probably filled with pallets. Pallets are cheap to manufacture and are easy to transport which is why they’re so popular in warehouse environments and – so long as you have the correct equipment – easy to move.
Forklifts take the lion share of the attention where this kind of job is concerned, however, they are quite bulky and costly, and for some businesses with logistical concerns, they just aren’t an option.
The Non-Straddle Powerstack we provide here at SHS is a lighter-duty option for lifting bulky and heavy items. Compared to forklifts, the stackers are more nimble and don’t require an operation license – anyone with adequate training can operate one.
All Safety & Emergency Procedures Should Be Visible
To ensure no one on the floor has any excuses for not following safety guidelines or wearing correct PPE, you should ensure your instructions on safety and emergency procedures are clearly visible at all times.
If accidents do happen, then clear signage should instruct the people on shift on what to do. Directing employees to eyewash stations, fire extinguishers and first aid equipment with clear indications is absolutely paramount.
Make The Workplace An Easy Place to Work In
Working in a warehouse is a tough job, and the opportunities for accident and injury are nearly endless.
You can minimise these risk factors by implementing a few straightforward things:
- Create a “pedestrian lane” where possible to prevent people idly walking through areas where heavy lifting takes place.
- Ensure every part of the warehouse is well lit to ensure everyone can see what they’re doing at all times.
- Design ergonomic workspaces to minimise the potential risks of lifting, turning and any other strained movement.
- Install guardrails and grips on stairs to reduce slips.
Regular Risk Assessments
Putting warehouse safety into practice is the easiest part of the process. Keeping them up-to-scratch over the long-term is the hard bit, and the only way to do this is to perform regular risk assessments.
Audits should focus on your machinery and equipment as well as your employees.
Different sections will require more inspections than others, for example, a piece of equipment that is used on a daily basis will need more frequent checkups than those that are used weekly, for example.
Here’s a typical selection of the things your assessment may include:
- Is all stationary equipment working correctly?
- Are all of your warehouse vehicles in good condition and ready to use?
- Are all walkways and fire exits clear of clutter?
- Are all cords and potential dangerous packing materials packed away neatly?
- Are all the lights working?
- Are all employees wearing the correct PPE?
Comply With Standard Procedure
There are already many mandatory safety standards that you need to comply with, and failure to do so could lead to accidents, legal action and fines.
There’s too many to list here, but they will mostly come under the three following categories:
- General Health, Safety & Welfare
- Materials Handling
Keeping your warehouse up to the standards of the industry you’re operating in, in most cases, this will be enough to avoid unnecessary accidents and legal action.
Our guide is designed to help you on your way to a safer warehouse, and is not an exhaustive list and, depending on the sector of your warehouse; there are many more procedures you can implement to ensure accidents are reduced and productivity increases.
If you have any questions about warehouse procedure and equipment, or any of our other products, then don't hesitate to contact us on 01280 825740 for more information.