The simple and perhaps most honest answer to this question is: because warehouses are dangerous. Warehouses are usually filled with moving machinery, lots of people carrying out different tasks, all with a degree of risk of injury and often getting in each other’s way, to a degree. Warehouse managers have a grave responsibility to mitigate against these risks by making warehouses as safe as they possible can.
A very significant number of people who work in a warehouse will have experienced some sort of injury during the course of this year, so safety should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to the working environment in a warehouse. It is not just down to managers. Employees, supervisors and managers must work together, ensuring they are correctly trained and familiar with all of the procedure and protocol that is in place to help make their warehouse a safe one.
Worse than the statistics surrounding warehouse injuries are those surrounding fatalities as fatal injuries in warehouse based enterprises exceed the national average across every industry. This alone should be enough for everyone to sit up and take warehouse safety incredibly seriously, but on top of that poor warehouse safety can lead to poor productivity, morale, increased downtime and time off work as well as a bad working atmosphere leading to difficulty in recruiting staff. Over the duration, the money and time spent on ensuring that the requisite training is given and the resources are spent on ensuring warehouse safety will be repaid in financial and human terms.
Leaving the potential hazards of heavy machinery, forklifts and the like aside for a moment, one of the most common cause of accidents in warehouses is from slippery floors or tripping over obstacles. Falls, trips and slips are rife in warehouses and can be easily prevented by good safety procedure. If a spill occurs it should be dealt with following established cleaning procedures as a matter of urgency and where possible, mats, platforms and dry standing places should be assigned. Aisles and exits should always be kept clutter free and floors should not be a dumping ground.
Moving onto a very serious safety area in the warehouse and forklift driving and safety signage. There simply has to be incredibly clear pathways marked on the ground and signs up warning of the risk of collisions in order to mitigate against the very real risk of collision with pedestrian employees, damage to inventory and property and of course to the forklift itself. Safety barriers and column protectors are important tools in the armoury of a warehouse manager looking to avoid damage to stock and injuries to staff. All forklift handlers should be properly trained that goes for anyone using cherry pickers – handlers should have the relevant PASMA or IPAF training.
Finally, there can be any number of hazardous or dangerous materials in a warehouse. Safety procedures must be as watertight as the containers used to store dangerous chemicals. Suitable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) should always be used when cleaning up chemical spills or doing anything that could involve damage to hands, eyes or feet. Having procedure for safe disposal of hazardous materials is not only imperative from a safety perspective, but also environmentally.