Warehouse safety protocol programs need to shift and change as new technologies and threats arise. While fatalities and injuries aren't getting worse, they aren't getting much better around the country either. In 2020, injuries and workplace fatalities decreased because workers were forced to stay at home or remain six feet apart if operations were essential. But, what's to come for these next few years as reports come in from 2021 and 2022?
To get ahead of pricy workers compensation situations, here's a clear and easy guide to practical warehouse safety.
Safety issues in the warehouse should be old news with workers rights and unions, but unfortunately, there are still shifts and changes that occur. From truck and tractor operations to pick, pack and ship workers, there are a number of accidents that can put employees in danger if they're not prepared.
One major issue warehouses are facing is a talent shortage. When there aren't enough workers to complete the job, employees are forced to wear many hats and maybe even pick up extra shifts. Even with properly trained and highly skilled workers, stress and burnout can cause more frequent injuries.
Coupled with e-commerce online ordering, fewer employees working in the fulfillment center could mean a pile up on left over boxes, or a disorganized warehouse that could cause hazardous work conditions. For example, in 2019, OSHA penalized four Dollar Tree stores because of unsafe merchandise storage and blocked walkways and exit routes.
How do you take the challenges the supply chain is facing and still make room for safe workspaces?
Planning and implementing warehouse safety procedures and protocol is the first step toward avoiding illnesses and minimizing injuries. A major reason why employees get hurt is partly due to the industry itself. Manufacturing often employs seasonal workers, and with shortages in the warehouse, not every business has time to train new employees.
When machinery and equipment are not maintained properly and the staff is not trained in safety procedures, accidents are bound to happen.
OSHA puts out an annual personal protective equipment brochure to ensure protocols are updated and employees are provided with the minimum requirements for safe equipment.
No matter how busy a workplace is, safety training and equipment is required to stay compliant with OSHA. This means that proper guidance and management should be standard practice in the warehouse to keep teams safe and away from danger.
Overall, the mindset you and your management teams should have is that, while it may take time to teach and research updated safety protocol to stay compliant, this will save time and valuable resources in the long run. Start with putting up mandatory OSHA posters and signage to keep employees informed, and develop a training module that works for your employees — either in-person or an online certification course.