No employee should be subjected to an unsafe workplace. It’s not only against the law in Australia to fail to meet all health and safety criteria, but it can also cost your business a great deal regarding employee health, compensation payouts, reduced workplace productivity, sick benefits and loss of stock and equipment.
Thankfully, there are some easy solutions to ensure your warehouse is secure and protected for everyone. Here are six different solutions for keeping your workplace happy and healthy at all times:
- Invest in Hi-Vis gear. Safety wear is an essential element of warehouse work. When work is routine, it’s too easy for workers to get into a groove and stop noticing potential dangers as they arise. According to Safe Work Australia, a third of annual workplace fatalities were the result of poor visibility – and it’s a problem that can be easily fixed. High visibility clothing helps those exposed to machinery and equipment in motion on a regular basis stay safe and sound. Made from reflective cotton or polyester, it increases visibility from all angles and is designed to withstand extensive wear and tear. That being said, your workers’ hi-vis gear should be replaced as soon as the material starts to wear.
- Make warehouse checklists. Managers, supervisors and HR staff should regularly create warehouse lists of all potential problem areas, OH&S issues and procedures as conditions in a busy warehouse change all the time. Important safety information should be updated often and communicated to all staff via briefings, seminars and posters. Storage areas should carry visible information about safe stacking guidelines and how much weight a shelf can take. Emergency signage should give details about common first aid procedures in bold print and images that stand out against its background surface.
- Install safety barriers. Every thriving warehouse has its potential hazards, whether its forklifts, spills, unloading areas or over-stacked storage bays. Make it easier for weary, distracted or stressed workers to avoid danger zones by installing steel barriers that physically remind them to stay alert. High-risk areas can be cordoned off quickly and easily with extra visible safety barriers that scream "Watch out!" And while they may reduce your available floor space, it's worth it to forestall any chance of a workplace tragedy.
- Secure your chemical and tool storage. If your warehouse uses, stores or transports hazardous chemicals and/or tools, work, health and safety regulations require they are correctly handled. Incompatible substances must be separated to decrease the chances of reactivity, ignition sources should be kept well away from flammable materials, and emergency plans in place should the worst happen. Unauthorised and untrained staff should never have access to secure chemicals – nominate specific workers to be responsible for ensuring the chemical storage unit is locked and secured. Potentially dangerous tools should also be locked away when not in use.
- Test and tag all electrical equipment. All electrical equipment used in the warehouse should be tested often by a competent person selected by management and tagged with essential information, according to the kind of work they're used for. Double insulated equipment should be tested every twelve months; equipment not double insulated must be checked twice as often. Under the law, an employer must secure employee safety by identifying any hazards associated with electrical equipment in use, assess associated risks and take measure to eliminate or control them.
- Traffic management plans. Managing your warehouse traffic ensures that risk to pedestrians is minimised as they move about your premises but it covers the movement of car, delivery trucks and forklifts as well. Designing the layout of the warehouse to ensure that it contains safety barriers, forklift barriers and bollards. Your staff should be well versed in the plan and understand the reason for its existence, as should any visitors.