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Preventing warehousing injuries / safety in the warehousing industry

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John Sherman
2018-10-14

Although preventing warehousing injuries and boosting safety within the overall industry falls back on multiple players within an organization, three have critical roles. Starting with the Human Resource Director, this individual must have policies in place to ensure the company hires qualified individuals on a job-to-job basis. That entails conducting backgrounds, requesting past employment referrals, and going through a detailed interview.

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The second responsible party is the Compliance Manager. Considering there are numerous regulations and laws in place, this person must ensure every worker follows strict orders. The third party is the L&D Manager who oversees training for company employees. This individual must select the right courses and medium so workers grasp the training and apply what they learned to their jobs.

In other words, preventing warehousing injuries and improving safety is a collaborative effort. Otherwise, a company could face severe consequences. The following shows how working together on a plan reduces risks and more.

  • Human Resources - Hiring the right people for the job not only reduces the potential for on-the-job accidents, but it also decreases the volume of employee turnover and compliance costs.
  • Compliance – Again, there is less risk of someone sustaining an injury when working within the confines of the law. Staying compliant also reduces costs.
  • Training – With proper training, the risk of injury decreases substantially. Look at it this way, with direct and indirect costs of work-related injuries and illnesses hovering around $170 billion annually, the same for what it costs to treat cancer patients; you can see how vital a good training program is for everyone within your organization.

Among the many causes of warehouse injuries, some are more common than others. Following are examples of four, and the appropriate steps you can take to prevent or minimalise them.

Slips, Falls, and Trips

As stated by OSHA, slips, falls, and trips account for the majority of warehouse injuries and 15 percent of all warehousing deaths. What makes this risk so interesting is, in most cases, the injury was preventable. The Compliance Manager needs to conduct regular inspections to make sure that workers follow all compliance regulations and laws.

Included is keeping aisles clear of clutter, cleaning up even the tiniest spill immediately, and reporting an issue that could cause a problem such as inadequate lighting. Again, proper training will go a long way in preventing slips, falls, and trips. Along with boosting the safety of warehouse employees, staying compliant prevents production downtime that could prove costly to the company, not to mention increasing insurance rates.

Collapsed Pallet Racks

Failing to store materials correctly on pallet racks can lead to a collapse. Especially for multi-tiered racks or mezzanines, even small and lightweight objects falling to the ground can cause severe injury, or worse. In addition to putting adequate space between the stacks of pallets, this is a prime example of how critical it is for the L&D manager to provide workers with extensive training.

As part of that, employees will learn the right way to maneuver a forklift, the importance of stacking smaller and lighter weight items on top of large and heavier ones. The Compliance Manager also plays a critical role by regularly inspecting the racks to ensure their positioning and other factors are in line with current regulations and laws.

Incidents with Hazardous Materials

If your employees work around or handle hazardous materials, ongoing inspections and training are vital. Although a hazmat team would likely come in to deal with any accidental leaks or spills, it is still essential for workers to have proper training. That way, they can quickly identify a possible threat and report it to the appropriate authority.

In this situation, the Compliance Manager should make sure that employees have easy access to both safety data sheets and personal protective equipment. From there, the L&D Manager can take over by providing workers with thorough training on how to use these items. When dealing with hazardous materials, your company needs to establish a response plan that allows employees to control the situation and thereby, avoid injury or illness.

Crashes with Forklift

When interviewing people to work as a forklift driver for your company, the HR department needs to confirm experience and training. Even when hiring someone who ran this type of equipment for years, the L&D Manager must continue to provide training in line with the company’s policies, as well as compliance laws and regulations.

Along with teaching drivers how to avoid crashes, a supervisor should carefully check forklifts before each shift. While this requires a little more work, it helps prevent injuries and even death.

The Bottom Line

When you consider the types of jobs that people do in a warehouse environment, accidents will happen. However, when the HR, compliance, and training departments work together to formulate a plan, the level of risk decreases significantly.

For training, the L&D Manager can choose from multiple topics online that relate to warehouse work. At Go1, we provide excellent courses written and often presented by industry experts. By going the online route, there is virtually no disruption to workflow and production.

Have your HR, Compliance, L&D managers determine the appropriate courses for new hires as well as existing employees. You can take training a step further by giving your leadership the opportunity to learn new skills and hone existing ones. With that, they become aware of potential risks, and thereby, more effective in their respective roles.

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