Warehouses across the country are facing new and unusual security challenges. But warehouse protection programs haven’t kept pace, as have injury and fatality statistics. Even worse, companies struggling to keep up with the e-commerce giants often make sweeping changes and expect security processes to keep up. But if a company doesn’t have secure warehouses, they risk losing quality workers, facing hefty lawsuits and fines, and losing their customer base.
In this guide, we’ll explore practical ways to prioritize and improve your warehouse security program. Read on to learn more.
1. What is warehouse protection?
Warehouse protection is a set of regulatory guidelines and industry best practices designed to help warehouse personnel ensure a safe working environment and reinforce safe behaviors while working in the warehouse. For sustainable warehouse operations, health and safety should be prioritized in the U.S. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fatal injuries in the warehousing industry are higher than the national average.
Warehouses can be dangerous places to work. It’s important to be aware of common warehouse hazards and hazards as they can lead to injuries and, in extreme cases, death. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. warehousing industry averages 16 deaths and an injury and illness rate of 5 per year. per 100 warehouse and warehousing workers.
2. Today’s warehouse security challenges
Here are the 8 most common warehouse safety hazards along with safety tips and resources to help you identify and control them:
Forklifts are critical equipment used in warehousing facilities. However, if done incorrectly, serious damage can occur to the operator, nearby workers, and property. The unsafe use of forklifts is OSHA’s most commonly cited hazard in warehousing operations. Here are some basic warehouse safety tips to follow when using a forklift:
- Make sure all forklift operators are competent and have completed certified training. Conduct regular refresher training and evaluations when operators are found to be operating vehicles in an unsafe manner.
- Pre-start forklift equipment inspections are performed daily to ensure there is no damage to controls or equipment.
One of the most serious accidents a worker can suffer while working in a warehouse is being caught or pinched between a forklift and a loading dock. This usually happens when a forklift runs off a dock and hits a person. Follow these tips to improve warehouse worker safety:
- Forklift operators must pay attention and drive slowly over the dock deck, making sure the dock edges are clear and can safely support the load.
- Always ensure warning signs and mechanisms are in place to prevent people from approaching the dock.
Conveying equipment is often used to transport goods from warehouse to warehouse. However, conveyors pose serious dangers to workers, including getting caught in the equipment and being hit by falling objects. It is important to follow these steps to ensure warehouse safety:
- Ensure there is appropriate protective equipment between the conveyor and workers to prevent clothing, body parts, and hair from becoming entangled.
- Follow proper lockout/tagout procedures during conveyor maintenance and repairs.
4) Material storage
Improper stacking of goods and storage of materials on shelves can result in accidental slips and trips for nearby workers.
- Keeping aisles and walkways clear and in good condition will prevent workers from slipping, tripping, or falling.
- Goods should be placed evenly and correctly, and heavier goods must be stacked on the lower or middle shelves. Removing one load at a time is always a good idea.
5) Manual lifting/transportation
The most common cause of injuries in warehouses and storage facilities is improper manual lifting and handling. Failure to follow correct procedures can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, especially with poor posture, repetitive movements, or overexertion. Warehouse safety during manual lifting or handling can be ensured by the following measures:
- Plan ahead and determine if lifting requirements can be minimized by applying good engineering design techniques.
- Observe ergonomically correct posture when carrying or moving loads. If the product is too heavy, ask a colleague for help. Learn more about workplace ergonomics principles.
6) Hazardous chemicals
When handling hazardous chemicals in a warehouse or storage facility, a hazard communication plan should be implemented. Your hazard communication plan should cover effective training in identifying chemical hazards; proper handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals; and the use of appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment). Workers and management teams must be equipped with the knowledge to better conduct safety inspections and properly handle and store hazardous chemicals to ensure warehouse safety.
7) Charging station
Charging stations in warehouse facilities are used to refuel or charge all powered equipment to function properly. Units can be powered by gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or batteries. Fires and explosions can occur if warehouse safety guidelines are not followed.
- Keeping charging stations away from open flames is a good idea. Smoking should be prohibited. Fire extinguishers should be available and in good working order in the event of fire.
- Appropriate ventilation systems must be installed to dissipate harmful gases. Appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn. Eyewash and shower facilities should be provided if employees are exposed to acids and chemicals.
8) Live equipment
All warehouse operations must implement a lockout/tagout (LOTO) program to ensure that all energized equipment is properly shut down and to prevent employees from being caught in mechanical parts or getting electrocuted. All affected workers must be trained on LOTO procedures and how to apply and remove LOTO equipment after performing maintenance to ensure warehouse safety.
3. Warehouse protection OSHA standards
Developing common warehouse protection standards that can be applied across the board is one way to improve working conditions. Currently, safety in warehouse environments is composed of a patchwork of common industry standards, but not all hazards (such as thermal illness and ergonomic hazards) are included in current standards. Standards enforced in the warehouse industry.
1) OSHA regulations and standards
Although there are no explicit OSHA warehousing regulations, warehouse operations comply with general industry requirements, which include the following OSHA standards:
- Hazard Communication – Warehouse operators should prepare and implement a written Hazard Communication (HazCom) plan, and warehouse workers who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals should understand the hazardous chemicals and how to protect them.
- Emergency Action Plan (EAP) – There should be a plan describing the actions of warehouse employees in the event of a fire or other emergency if the warehouse owner does not have an internal fire department or brigade. actions to be taken.
- Fire Safety – Warehouse managers employing more than 10 workers should develop a written fire prevention plan that is maintained in the warehouse and available for review by warehouse personnel.
- Exit Routes – The warehouse should have at least two carefully designed and constructed emergency exit routes – as far apart as possible from each other to prevent obstruction by fire or smoke – and regularly inspected Maintenance, protection, and operating conditions characteristics.
- Walking/Working Surfaces – Warehouse and warehousing facility workers who work at heights, especially on elevated platforms, should be equipped with a fall protection system to protect themselves. Falls are serious workplace injuries and One of the leading causes of death.
- Medical and First Aid – OSHA requires warehouse operators to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies commensurate with warehouse hazards, such as pallet racks due to unsafe use of forklifts, etc. Malfunctions and falling shelves, etc.
2) OSHA’s role in warehouse protection
To help promote warehouse worker safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a safety manual called Worker Safety Series: Warehousing. This publication covers the most common hazards in warehouse environments. It covers specific areas of the warehouse, from docks to conveyors, providing tips for reducing hazards in these areas. The manual also contains a Thinking Safety Checklist covering:
- General safety: dock areas, floors, and other areas, ventilation systems, and employee procedures
- Material Handling: Any loose and unboxed materials, storage areas, appropriate lifting techniques
- Hazard Communication: Hazardous Materials Training, Procedures and Documentation
- Forklifts: Training and Maintenance
3) Personal protective equipment required in the warehouse
OSHA requires employers to provide appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) to all workers in warehouses. Employers seeking comprehensive guidance on personal protective equipment can utilize OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment Handbook. Employers are required by OSHA to conduct ongoing hazard assessments to determine if personal protective equipment is necessary. Each employer is also responsible for:
- Provide employees with the required personal protective equipment
- Train employees on the proper use and care of personal protective equipment
- Maintain personal protective equipment and replace it as needed
The responsibility for the correct use of PPE does not solely fall on the employer. Employees must wear PPE properly, attend training sessions, care for, clean, and properly store PPE, and notify supervisors when PPE needs to be replaced or repaired. Warehouses typically use the following types of personal protective equipment:
- high visibility jacket
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Safety boots with steel toe caps
- work clothes
- safety gloves
4) Mandatory safety signs
Every warehouse must also post mandatory safety signs. The 29 CFR 1910.145 contains all of OSHA’s signage guidance. Signage guidelines tell employers what type of signage is required, where the signage should be placed, and exactly what the signage should look like.
There are several different types of safety signs in warehouses: General Safety, Access, Fire Safety, and No Hazard. Within these categories, signs should have one of three classification levels.
Hazard signs warn of the most serious dangers. Warning signs indicate areas that may be hazardous but do not require the same amount of caution as hazardous areas. In addition, warning signs indicate areas that may cause minor injuries or damage but should still be taken seriously.
5) Training required for warehouse workers
OSHA’s other requirements include mandatory training for employees. OSHA’s Training Requirements in the OSHA Standards booklet sets forth training requirements for general industry, maritime, construction, agriculture, and federal employee programs. Companies should consult the handbook to understand which requirements apply to their warehouses and overall operations. For additional training, employers can take advantage of the OTI Education Center. OSHA authorizes these nonprofit organizations to train workers, supervisors, and employers in occupational safety and health. OSHA also provides educational materials to supplement training, including:
- brochures and brochures
- Fact Sheet
- Online safety and health topics page
- Online communication
4. Frequently asked questions about warehouse protection
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about warehouse protection.
1) What is the biggest security issue in warehouses?
According to OSHA, the biggest safety issue facing warehousing companies is forklift accidents. According to the latest statistics, an estimated 35,000 to 62,000 forklift injuries occur each year, and unfortunately, some of them are fatal.
2) What is a warehouse safety checklist?
An employee and visitor safety checklist is a comprehensive document that lists the measures and procedures for ensuring the safety of warehouse workers and visitors. Checklists typically cover all areas of the warehouse, including storage areas, interior and exterior dock areas, equipment inspections, offices, etc.
3) How often should warehouse inspections be conducted?
As warehouse inspections depend on the level of risk present in the environment and the hazards identified, there is no specific frequency for conducting them. Identifying and resolving urgent issues may require daily assessments, while weekly and monthly inspections emphasize the need to maintain safety standards over time. A warehouse should also undergo an annual inspection specifically to evaluate its physical structure and management assets.
4) What personal protective equipment is needed in the warehouse?
Some of the most commonly used personal protective equipment when working in a warehouse include hard hats, steel-toed boots or safety shoes, safety glasses or goggles, gloves, and high-visibility veterinary clothing. However, these PPEs are still dependent on the specific hazards present in a given warehouse environment.
Creating a safe and efficient warehouse environment starts with a safety culture. Managers at all levels, especially executives and owners, should reinforce this culture. Creating a safe work environment starts with developing a safety plan that covers all parts of the warehouse and applies to all employees. A company’s owners and managers should invest time and resources into safety and factor these costs into the overall budget.
Employers should always remember that safe employees are more productive and more likely to remain loyal to the company. It may seem obvious, but it’s important to emphasize. If employers take care of their employees, their employees will take care of their jobs. That’s it for this article’s discussion of warehouse protection. If you are a business owner, please follow this guide to check and improve your warehouse security.