8 Essential Safety Tips Every Warehouse Employee Should Know
Warehouses are complex environments that present many potential hazards to employees. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries. Warehouse employees need to take a proactive approach to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of their peers, while at work.
But what does that look like in action? Here are eight essential safety tips every warehouse employee should know and follow.
1. Beware of your surroundings at all times
Warehouses are high-traffic environments, with people and heavy machinery moving around simultaneously. It’s essential that you stay aware of your surroundings at all times while at work.
Ensure you have a thorough understanding of your warehouse layout, including potential hazard areas like blind corners or unventilated areas. Every warehouse in the US is required to have clearly marked exits and a comprehensive fire alarm system; you should always know the location of the nearest exit and emergency evacuation procedures. Do not wear headphones while on the warehouse floor: you need to be alert and aware of the sounds and sights around you at all times. And always stop and look both ways whenever you cross an aisle or turn a corner.
2. Make sure you understand all safety protocols and procedures
Your employer will provide thorough training in basic safety protocols before you ever hit the warehouse floor. This will include ergonomic training to reduce your risk of back or neck strain and repetitive use injuries, as well as specific training relevant to your role and any equipment you’ll operate.
Use your training period to ensure you understand all safety protocols and procedures and ask for clarification if you don’t. If you’re not automatically provided with safety information or adequately trained—or if you have any questions or concerns—ask your manager to provide you with the necessary information.
3. Keep work areas clean and dry
A cluttered work space can obstruct the path for workers and heavy machinery—and lead to falls and other injuries. Always ensure your work space is tidy and organized: there should not be boxes or equipment in aisles or stacked in corners. Additionally, keep your work area dry at all times: wet patches on warehouse floors, ladders, or conveyor belts can create dangerously slippery conditions for both employees and equipment.
4. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
PPE will be provided by your employer and is designed to protect you from potential hazards in your work environment. It is essential equipment for basic bodily protection that can help keep you safe in hot, cold, dusty, or dangerous conditions, and it should be worn at all times.
5. Inspect equipment and tools prior to use
Always do a basic safety check on equipment and tools before using them. This will help you confirm that all parts are in proper working order. If not, you’ll have a chance to identify and fix potential issues before they occur.
6. Properly label and store chemicals
Most materials that contain chemicals come with strict handling and storage requirements. OSHA has detailed guidelines on how to label and store chemicals. Be sure to reference these guidelines and any additional information your employer provides when handling chemicals.
7. Report injuries immediately
Even minor injuries should be reported as soon as they occur. This helps ensure a record is kept for future reference and can prevent similar (or more serious) injuries from happening to yourself or other employees.
8. Never perform duties you’re not trained or licensed to perform
Operating equipment that you’re not licensed and trained to operate, or performing tasks that are outside of your area of expertise, opens the door to potential injuries and risks. Stick to tasks that you’ve been trained in and understand well. If you’re asked to perform a task outside your main function, seek out a manager to find a safe alternative.
In many cases, warehouse safety procedures are regulated and required by law. Even still, it is always in an employee’s best interests to ensure they’re doing the best they can to adhere to safety protocols for their own safety and the safety of others.
Learn more about how Bay Alarm can keep your warehouse environment safe.
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