Warehouses are busy places. Forklifts, pallet jacks and order pickers compete for aisle space. Employees on foot must stay on constant alert. It’s no wonder that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded the transportation and warehousing sector as having an injury and illness rate five times the average for all industries in 2012, the last year for which the Bureau published its annual report. Here are three tips to keep warehouse employees safe.
Almost two-thirds of injuries recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics were sprains, strains and muscle tears. Those injuries occur when employees are trying to accomplish something beyond their physical ability. Employees who are rushing don’t take the time to lift carefully or get help and that results in strains and sprains. It’s a delicate balancing act between slowing employees down to avoid injuries and keeping production moving at full speed. Get buy-in from management by pointing to the high cost of injuries and working short-staffed employees too hard.
The Right Equipment for the Job
Material-handling equipment is no longer limited to forklifts and pallet jacks. There are order pickers for tight spaces, narrow aisles and long reaches. An employee without the right order picker to reach a high pallet might be tempted to climb that last rack just to get the job done. Instead of risking a serious injury, give employees the right tools for the job. Some Barnaby forklift distributors have a huge array of equipment for the variety of employer needs in the market. Those who offer operator training on their equipment are an even better resource. Accidents occur when operators aren’t familiar with the limitations of the equipment they’re handling.
Watch out for Indoor Heat Illness
Temperatures in warehouses can get very high during the summer. Employees who don’t drink enough water and who aren’t used to heavy physical labor in the heat can get ill. The same goes for employees taking certain medications, like high blood pressure medicine or for individuals who suffer from diabetes. Drinking alcohol prior to working in heat is another risk factor. Educating employees about the importance of staying hydrated and the risk factors for heat illness will keep them well.
If work doesn’t get done in the warehouse the company’s bottom line suffers but employees who rush too much will suffer too. Safety should be the number one priority for an employer and employees when working in this type of environment. The employer should review all safety standards with all of the company employees every so often.
If employees are cutting corners to simply get the job done, it can cause that employee and the safety and others to be at risk. In this case one of two things should happen. The first, is that particular employee who is violating the safety standards either needs to be suspended or let go, and the employer should evaluate why corners are being cut to get the job done. The employer might find that he or she is understaffed to adequately fulfill this position. Warehouse crews need to be at their peak efficiency without becoming careless or sloppy. The bottom line is that the employer and employee always need to make safety a number one priority when working in a potentially dangerous environment.