In business, one of the biggest concerns of business owners is “employee safety”. Owners should ensure that their employees are protected at all times from certain hazards they may encounter in the workplace. The distribution industry comes with many dangers. OSHA says the fatal injury rate is higher than in other industries. Know the risks – and always put safety at the heart of your operations!
On the one hand, the average injury rate in the warehousing industry is higher compared to other industries. Therefore, a higher degree of employee safety standards need to be observed. Therefore, employers in this industry must provide their employees with personal protective equipment, marked walkways, and most importantly, safety railings.
Some guardrails may not be suitable or may not be safe at all. When selecting safety railings for installation in warehouses, certain criteria must be met. Here are some guidelines to help you decide which security railing is right for your warehouse. Check out the rest of this article to learn more.
1. OSHA General Safety Guidelines for Warehouses
For the general safety of warehouse workers, OSHA provides the following general guidelines:
- Make sure your warehouse is well ventilated
- Implement proper lockout/tagout procedures
- Barricade exposed or open loading dock doors and any area where an employee falls more than four feet
- Clear floors, aisles, and surfaces of any hazards that could cause tripping, slipping, or falling
- Train employees how to work safely in hot and cold conditions
- Teach new employees proper ergonomics – for both general use and specific tasks
- Ensure regular breaks for employees performing physical labor
- Consider appropriate work practices when determining how long employees need to complete tasks
2. Common Warehouse Safety Hazards and How to Avoid Them
In addition to general security guidelines, Aotons lists common repository references and their solutions, including:
Forklift accidents are one of the most common problems in distribution centers. Not only are they an oft-cited OSHA violation, but unprotected forklifts can mean accidents and, in the worst cases, injuries.
Keep your people safe by implementing these solutions
- Train and certify forklift operators
- Establish safe operating procedures
- Install Industrial Security Barriers to Protect Your Workers
What separates your workforce from heavy machinery? Choose impact-tested safety barriers to protect your personnel from forklifts and other industrial machinery.
2) Hazard Communication
When an incident occurs, you need to communicate with your employees quickly and efficiently. Ensure proper training on hazardous substances and how to store them, and establish procedures and rapid hazard communication to keep your personnel safe.
Protect your people:
- Maintain Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS)
- Educate employees about the risks of chemicals and how to store them properly
3) Electrical Wiring Method
The first step is to ensure proper grounding and electrical wiring to prevent fire and electrical hazards.
- Provide ground fault circuit interrupter
- Implement a Guaranteed Equipment Grounding Conductor Program
The next step is to protect your important wires. Protect your critical systems with an industrial security barrier like Systems Protector. Systems Protector prevents runaway pallets, trucks, and forklifts from hitting your electrical, fire safety, refrigeration, and IT systems.
4) Respiratory Problems
Protect the health of your employees. Proper respiratory equipment ensures that employees do not inhale any potentially harmful toxins. Take the time to make sure every employee understands precautions and how to properly maintain PPE.
Follow these practices:
- Provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Train employees on how to care for their PPE
5) Fall Hazard
A dropped item can mean damaged items and potential injury to anyone walking beneath the drop zone. Use proper safety barriers to prevent and prevent falls, accidents and injuries.
- Install “fall arrests” systems such as guardrails and railings
- The installation of a “fall arrest” system, such as a safety net, is recommended
3. What are Guardrails or Safety Railings?
Before reading the guardrail guide, we must first understand what a guardrail or safety railing is. The terms “guardrail” and “safety railing” are often used interchangeably. They both refer to heavy beams installed on elevated platforms and stairs for fall protection. They are designed to keep inventory and employees safe.
Additionally, guardrails increase warehouse productivity by allowing you to separate traffic areas, fence off restricted areas, and protect equipment and inventory. This is the most cost-effective safety precaution against the overhead associated with replacing damaged inventory, equipment, and storage systems. Because of these features, guardrails must be strong enough to withstand breaking if a person or object is dropped or pushed.
4. Workplace Suitability
By Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, all platforms that are 4 feet or more above the adjacent floor or ground must be secured with standard guardrails on all open sides. This rule covers mezzanines, loading docks, roofs, etc.
The type of railing you use in your warehouse will mostly depend on the type of warehouse you operate. For most warehouses, the most common but best basic guardrail for any facility is an industrial steel safety railing. This type of guardrail is known to withstand a 10,000-pound impact at 4 mph. Most warehouses choose industrial removable safety railings for their versatility and durability.
Other types of guardrails include:
- Tube guardrail
- Embedded guardrail
- fixed barrier
- lock dock guard
- interlocking barriers
- and more.
Choosing the right guardrail depends on your warehouse and operation, as we mentioned earlier. Make sure you choose the most appropriate security railing for your business when choosing a security railing.
1) Compliant with OSHA standards
The safety railing you choose for your warehouse must comply with OSHA standards after you have selected the most suitable guardrail. Railings must meet strict OSHA standards. When determining whether your guardrail is compliant, OSHA considers the spacing between vertical and horizontal posts. A safety railing’s diameter must also be chosen correctly.
Likewise, OSHA mandates that guardrails must be made of materials that will not cause injury to workers, such as cuts, punctures, or entanglement. It is recommended that you choose one with rounded surfaces rather than sharp edges.
2) Height limit
As a practical safety feature, OSHA recommends that guardrails have a vertical height of 42 inches from the upper surface of the top rail to the level of the floor, platform, runway, or ramp. Guardrails higher than the maximum height of 44 inches are permitted provided the additional height does not expose workers to certain hazards.
A guardrail or safety rail should serve as a warning of potential workplace hazards. It can also serve as a visual cue to guide traffic flow in operations. That’s why they need to be visible.
OSHA recommends labeling guardrails to indicate potential hazards. Additionally, it is recommended that guardrails be identified in bright yellow, which is the industry standard color for warnings.
4) Buy from a reliable seller
It is also important to buy from a reputable supplier when it comes to security railings. Purchase safety railings from suppliers who offer quality railings. Products made in the United States are subject to stricter manufacturing standards than those sold by their foreign counterparts.
Also, if you buy American-made guardrails, it will be easier to repair if damaged, as replacement parts and accessories are more readily available than imported ones.
As mentioned earlier, the risk of injury is higher in the warehousing industry than in other industries. As a result, employers in this industry are being asked to be more cautious in ensuring the safety of their employees.
Warehouses must install guardrails as a basic safety feature in the workplace. It must meet OSHA codes and must also follow guidelines to ensure you install the most appropriate safety railing for your warehouse.
Aotons provides distribution centers with material handling products that can withstand the harshest conditions. Contact us to learn more and check out our blog to see examples of Aotons products in stock.