According to The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, it’s a legal requirement for all employers to be solely responsible for the safety of their staff when in the workplace. When it comes to the material handling industry, this involves making your warehouse as safe as possible to operate in, whether your employees are on foot or operating equipment.
From the premises and structure itself to health and safety procedures, all business owners have a duty of care when it comes to their staff, but why is it so important, what can you do to make your warehouse safe and how can Hire Forklifts help you in your quest?
Why do you need to make warehouse safety a priority?
Besides the legal requirement to ensure health and safety in the workplace, there are several other reasons why you should take the necessary steps to make your premises a safe and secure environment for all involved
One of the first, and possibly the most important reasons, is to prevent your employees from coming to any harm. Injuries in the workplace, especially in a warehouse, can be extremely serious and so you must do as much as you can to mitigate it entirely.
As well as the fact your workers will come to harm, they could also take steps to sue you for negligence which could result in hefty monetary penalties and even compensation payouts for the affected staff member. This is another reason to do your best to keep your warehouse safe and protect your workers as much as possible.
If one of your employees does suffer an injury in the workplace and doesn’t wish to sue the company, then the warehouse will still suffer as they’ll be short of staff for the foreseeable future. It might even be the case that the injured worker is forever feeling the effects of the accident and so they might take early retirement or leave the company altogether as they’re unfit to carry out a physically-demanding job in a warehouse.
If you lose the injured worker completely, then you’ll have to spend time and effort interviewing for a new recruit and this will, in turn, take your attention away from bettering and expanding the business. To keep your operations running as smoothly as possible and to keep them on track for the foreseeable future, put safety measures in place now to protect your workers.
How to make your warehouse safer
For the aforementioned reasons, it’s important that your warehouse is safe for your employees to operate in and navigate around and these are measures that should be in place at all times. But how exactly can you do that, even when on a budget? There are several things that can be done, even in the busiest of warehouses, including the following:
Ensure safe vehicles & equipment operation
Forklifts and other heavy pieces of warehouse equipment can cause a lot of damage to your employees, your inventory and even other material handling machines that happen to be nearby. To prevent accidents from occurring in the first place, make sure that only certified workers are using them and that they’re up to date with all of their training. Strict forklift operation guidelines also need to be followed, especially in the winter when weather conditions change.
Something else you can do is fit the following items with bumpers in a bid to minimise damage to forklifts and other pieces of material handling equipment should a collision occur. It’ll also help to protect your employees, your stock and the warehouse itself from coming to any harm or suffering any damages:
- Dock areas
- Mezzanine flooring
You should also make it exceptionally clear that any employees who are found to be misusing the equipment they’re operating will face strict disciplinary procedures and therefore, not using the machines for their intended use is heavily advised against.
When it comes to looking after the machines, such as forklifts, reach trucks, pallet trucks and more, you must ensure that they’re maintained and repaired by highly-qualified, fully-certified engineers as per the manufacturers’ instructions, advice and recommendations, regardless of the make or model of your vehicle.
Check that any shelving & racking are solid and secure
Poor racking or shelving, whether it be old, deteriorating, broken or has been poorly used over the years can be extremely dangerous and so it should be replaced immediately. Once you have brand new racking that’s been installed as per regulations and manufacturers’ instructions, or if you already have shelving that’s fit for use, then make sure your employees are trained to distribute the weight as evenly and as responsibly as possible.
Weight restrictions should be made very clear when it comes to each shelf the racking has available and boxes should be stacked effectively in order to prevent any stock from toppling or falling off onto a worker. If this happens, you could seriously injure your employees, but if it lands on the floor, you could cause more damage to the products which will then cost you money and cause a drop in overall profits made.
Provide your workers with PPE
Providing your employees with appropriate protective equipment is paramount to ensuring their safety in the workplace. Typical pieces of PPE that should be provided as a minimum, especially in the warehouse, includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Protective footwear like steel-toed boots
- Hard hats
- High-visibility clothing and/or overalls
Retrain your employees with regards to safe work practices
Your employees, especially the ones who are certified to operate heavy machinery, should be retrained and placed on refresher courses regularly in order to keep up with regulations and requirements, regardless of how seasoned they might be.
Workers who spend most of their time on foot should also receive adequate safety training to protect themselves from harm when material handling equipment is in use and new members of staff should also be thoroughly versed in the safety measures you have in place. As previously said, regardless of how experienced an employee might be, safety awareness in the workplace should be revised often.
Have safety signs erected & ensure they’re easy to read
Any signs you have up and around the premises should be easy and quick to read, regardless of the information, instruction or warning it displays. Clear signage is an absolute must in the workplace, especially when it comes to warehouse safety. You should maintain proper emergency signage for the following:
- First aid kits, stations, cabins or kiosks
- Eye wash stations
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire blankets
- Sloped areas
- Areas with a drop on one or both sides
- Warning signs that vehicles are operating in the vicinity
- Warning signs that pedestrians might be around
- Docking areas
- Other important parts of the warehouse
Keep your warehouse tidy & clutter-free
Ensuring your warehouse is tidy and clutter-free is an essential way of maintaining safety throughout the workplace. As well as making your premises look better for customers, suppliers and workers, it has, more importantly, a safety aspect to it also. Keeping aisles clear of items such as boxes, ties, ropes and other products will help to prevent slips, trips and falls.
If products are broken, be sure to throw them away, recycling items where possible, including boxes, pallets and even vehicles. There are some companies out there that will take your unwanted machinery away and recondition them ready for future use elsewhere. Whether it’s an old forklift, pallet truck, reach truck or another piece of warehouse equipment, they’ll be able to take it off your hands.
Staff safety training should also include how to keep the premises clean, tidy and clutter-free and clear paths should be set out for pedestrians to walk on and for vehicles to drive along. Segregating workers who are on-foot from those who are operating heavy machinery will also help to prevent any accidents from occurring in the workplace.
You should also look to implement anti-fatigue mats in a bid to mitigate slips and trips in the aisles. They’ll also be good for protecting your employees’ knees, shins and ankles if they’re required to be on their feet for a long period of time.
Consider seasonality when it comes to protecting your workers
The winter can bring with it harsh weather conditions that pose new problems for those who operate heavy warehouse equipment, such as diesel forklifts. Diesel and LPG forklifts are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use, but it’s important that employees are aware of the dangers that come with adverse winter weather.
Your workers should know how to handle the vehicle they’re operating, regardless of whether it’s carrying a heavy load or not, in the following environments:
- Blizzard-like snowfall
- Rain, either heavy, fine, normal or continuous
- Excessive amounts of surface water
- Spray as a result of heavy or continuous rainfall
- Strong winds
- Cold winds
- Freezing temperatures
In addition to the minimum amount of PPE provided, you should also give your employees winter protective clothing, such as, but not limited to, the following:
- Thermal coats or overcoats
- Leather boots with thick, grippable soles
- Snow goggles
- Thick, wooly hats or beanies
How can Hire Forklifts help to keep your employees safe?
Here at Hire Forklifts, we’re able to provide our customers with high-calibre, robust pieces of material handling equipment. Whether you need reliable, transparent forklift hire or if you require other pieces of warehouse equipment to rent, then you’ll always be able to look to us here at Hire Forklifts for help.
If safety is your number one priority when renting material handling equipment, then look no further than Hire Forklifts. All of the equipment we have on offer, including electric forklifts, reach trucks, order pickers and pallet trucks, to name a few, is rigorously safety checked, maintained and inspected on a regular basis so you’ll have absolute peace of mind that the warehouse equipment you hire is as safe, durable and secure as possible.
In the highly-unlikely event that you have an issue with your forklift, or another warehouse machine you’ve hired, then contact a member of our dedicated, knowledgeable team for help and we’ll be sure to replace the vehicle as soon as possible. We’re committed to helping every warehouse owner and/or manager, regardless of the size of your premises or how big or small your budget might be.
If you’d like further information about how we can assist you with forklift hire, reach truck hire, pallet truck hire or warehouse equipment hire in general, get in touch with a member of our professional, friendly team today – we’re always happy to hear from you.