Some warehouses are safer than others. When employees work in an environment that seems dangerous, it is no fun for them to head to work and wonder, “Will today be the day I have an accident like the one Bob had?”
There are a few things managers and supervisors can do immediately and for little cost to improve their workers’ safety.
Review the OSHA pocket guide
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a free and useful pocket guide on warehouse safety. It identifies potential hazards in your workplace – for example, exits, wall openings and forklifts. It also explains solutions to these issues. With forklifts, you should restrict their use to workers 18 and older, train and certify operators, and keep the forklifts well-maintained, among other solutions.
The pocket guide also contains checklists, a valuable tool when it comes to safety. You can use the ones in the guide, tailor them or develop your own. For example, a general safety checklist might require a worker or supervisor to check off items that ensure employees get adequate rest breaks, floors are free of messes, and new employees are receiving the training they need to perform tasks and to function safely. A materials safety checklist could include items on safe storage of materials, using covers to shield people from hazards, and having clearly marked aisles and spaces for areas where employees handle materials.
Develop proactive strategies
Of course, the OSHA pocket guide is just a starting point. You must make ongoing conscious and proactive decisions about safety. They should include periodic training sessions with incentives for employees to pay attention, a safety committee that gives workers a voice and a role in developing safety practices, and safety sweeps that examine a certain area such as forklifts or materials handling for safety on the spot and without warning. Posting clearly labeled visual reminders of safety expectations also keeps workers aware, but change these materials perhaps every few months or every year. Otherwise, they may fade into the background after workers grow accustomed to their presence.