7 Tips for Preventing Warehouse Accidents
Avoiding warehouse accidents is a concern for managers and safety supervisors. However, it’s also a top priority for warehouse workers, forklift drivers, and even pedestrians passing through. Most accidents and injuries are preventable with smart pre-planning and comprehensive safety training.
Has your company had a warehouse accident recently? In the past 5 years? Eventually, even the most safety-minded companies will have a safety issue in their warehouse.
The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) keeps meticulous records of all warehouse accidents. In 2019, there were more than 10 warehouse fatalities. As far as regular accidents go, roughly 4 of every 100 warehouse and distribution center workers had an on-the-job injury. A much-publicized study showed that Amazon, the largest e-retailer in the United States, had more than 9 of every 100 workers with a workplace injury, more than double the national average.
Plus, OSHA always keeps track of the most common safety violations every year. And every year, forklift accidents (which include many in warehouses) are always near the top of the list. The most recent tally was no exception.
Clearly, we all have some work to do with warehouse safety. What are some ways you can help ensure a safer warehouse today? Our forklift training courses outline different aspects related to safety in the warehouse, and here are some sure-fire ways to prevent warehouse accidents:
- Mind your speed. Excessive speed is one of the leading causes of forklift tipovers. Since tipovers are one of the most common types of forklift and warehouse accidents, it helps to use extra caution around intersections, entryways, and other high traffic areas. Other common causes of tipovers include exceeding maximum load capacities, traveling on inclined surfaces, and “road” hazards (“road,” in this case, referring to the regular travel path of warehouse forklifts). Speaking of road hazards…
- Keep your warehouse clean. The smallest piece of debris in your warehouse can cause the biggest accidents. If you see anything impeding a forklift path – plastic pallet wrap, splintered wood from a pallet, oil, grease, paper, whatever – clean it up immediately. Don’t wait for someone else to take action; the next person approaching the debris might be an unsuspecting forklift operator. I can’t stress enough how important a clean warehouse is for overall safety. Debris is what we call a “warehouse pain point.” Address them ASAP – it’s a great way to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Promote a maintenance plan. Thorough, regular maintenance isn’t a luxury or nice-to-have. It’s required by OSHA, and for good reason: malfunctioning forklifts are the source for many accidents. Forklift maintenance is one of those overlooked elements of good warehouse safety. Here’s a great resource for getting your maintenance plan on track today.
- Know your equipment. From maximum load capacity to optimal operational methods, nobody knows your forklifts better than the manufacturer. Ensure all employees have a solid understanding of safe operation for all lifts. Specific, targeted knowledge about every lift is the ideal complement to general safety training.
- Designate safe walking areas. Occasionally, pedestrians must enter the warehouse. The combination of forklifts and pedestrians is a potentially disastrous mix. That’s why you should have designated walking areas, and regular training sessions so everyone knows the exact locations of safe walking zones. All pedestrian walking areas should have safety cones, lights, painted walkways, and other advance warning mechanisms in place.
- Report any safety issue immediately. From so-called “close calls” to poor lighting to improperly working forklifts, it’s the duty of every worker to report safety issues to management. Your company should keep a database documenting all issues, and address each one as soon as possible. This helps identify patterns and tendencies, so you can take corrective safety actions.
- Train your employees. Without safety training, you can’t legally have anyone operate a powered industrial truck. With OSHA complaint safety training, your drivers have the knowledge and instruction to identify hazards on the go – and even before they start!
These seven tips are a great way to get your warehouse safety back on track. Of course, each warehouse is different. For example, a frozen food distribution warehouse has different safety considerations than a lumberyard. Make your safety priorities match your specific needs, and you’ll see it’s easier to avoid accidents than you’d think!