Warehouses can be a hazardous place due to the prevalence of heavy machinery and the heights at which goods and equipment may be stacked. But with a commitment to safety procedures and equipment, the chance of workplace injuries can be greatly reduced.
Here are five basic, yet essential pieces of safety equipment and procedures no warehouse should be without:
Unfortunately, falls are a fairly common occurrence in warehouses, so extra precautions need to be taken to both prevent falls and to ensure that if a worker does lose their footing, their injuries are minimized. One crucial piece of safety equipment are guard rails, which should be installed anywhere that falling may pose a risk. All stairs, inclines and ledges should also be lined with anti-slip tape. Safety mats offer an even higher level of protection, in the event a fall occurs.
Lockout/tagout systems allow users to prevent equipment from being operated – or even turned on – when safety measures dictate a shutdown of machinery, when equipment is being serviced or whenever preventing access is desired. For more information on implementing lockout/tagout systems, read the guidance presented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You can also control access to dangerous items with various secure storage devices, such as gas cylinder cages.
Detailed signage for each warehouse area is another vital safety feature. Some of the things to delineate with signage include which employees are permitted to access each area, where smoking is permitted and where it is not, hazardous and flammable materials areas, vehicular traffic zones, fire exits and the locations of fire extinguishers. Furthermore, everything in the warehouse should be labeled with identifying information, and where applicable, safe use instructions.
An extensive, portable first aid kit is an essential piece of warehouse equipment, and for larger spaces multiple kits are a good idea to have on hand. Kits should contain a diverse array of medical equipment, such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pads, gloves, adhesive tape, a cold pack, ammonia inhalants, eye wash, aspirin, burn spray, cotton applicators, scissors and tweezers, as well as thorough instructions. Employees should look over the contents and be prepared to use them in the event of an emergency.
Head-to-toe protection is essential for all warehouse employees, including protection from impact and possibly, chemical burns (if applicable). Safety equipment should include helmets, face shields, ear protection, gloves, eyewear, vests, kneepads and respiratory protection. Further, industrial floor mats go a long way toward limiting strain on knees, shins and ankles. Consider maintaining a rescue basket for transporting an injured worker from a crane-accessible location. Also, be sure to train employees on safe lifting techniques, in order to prevent back injuries.