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Learn about the basics of warehouse safety, OSHA warehousing standards, and tips to help ensure health and safety in warehouses.
Published November 10th, 2020
Warehouse safety is a set of regulatory guidelines and industry best practices to help warehousing personnel ensure a safe work environment and reinforce safe behavior when working in warehouses. For sustainable warehouse operations, health and safety should be prioritized as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that the fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries.
Warehouses can be dangerous places to work in. It is important to understand common warehouse dangers and hazards because they can cause injuries and in extreme cases death. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average of 16 fatalities every year in the U.S. warehousing and storage sector and a reported injury and illness rate of 5 out of every 100 warehouse and storage workers.
While there are no explicit OSHA warehousing regulations, warehouse operations fall under the general industry requirements which include the following OSHA standards:
Here are 8 of the most common warehouse safety hazards and safety tips and resources to help you identify and control them:
Forklifts are critical pieces of equipment used in warehousing and storage facilities. However, when operated incorrectly can cause serious damage to operators, nearby workers and property. Unsafe use of forklifts is the most often cited hazard in warehousing operations by OSHA. Below are a few basic warehouse safety tips to follow in forklift use:
One of the worst accidents a worker could suffer when working in a warehouse is being pinned or crushed between a forklift truck and the loading dock. This typically occurs when a forklift runs off the dock and strikes a person. Follow the tips below to ensure the safety of workers:
Conveyor equipment is commonly used in the transportation of goods from warehouse to warehouse. However, conveyors pose serious dangers to workers including getting caught in equipment and being struck by falling objects. To ensure warehouse safety, it is important to do the following:
Improper stacking of loads and storage of materials on shelves can result in unintended slip and trip hazards for nearby workers.
The most common cause of physical injuries in warehouse and storage facilities involves improper manual lifting and handling. Failure to follow proper procedures can cause musculoskeletal disorders, especially if done with awkward postures, repetitive motions, or overexertion. Warehouse safety during manual lifting or handling can be ensured by doing the following:
When handling hazardous chemicals in your warehouse or storage facilities, a hazard communication program should be implemented. Your hazard communication program should cover effective training on identifying chemical hazards; proper handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals; and the use of appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment). It is imperative that workers and management teams be knowledgeable in conducting better safety inspections and proper handling and storing of hazardous chemicals to ensure warehouse safety.
Charging stations in warehouse facilities are used to refuel or recharge all powered equipment to function. Units may be powered by gasoline, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), or battery. If warehouse safety guidelines are not followed, fires and explosions can occur.
A Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program must be implemented in all warehouse operations to ensure that all energized equipment is properly shut off and to prevent employees from being caught between mechanical parts or being electrocuted. All affected workers must be trained on LOTO procedures and how to apply and remove LOTO devices after performing maintenance to ensure warehouse safety. Check out this collection of digital LOTO checklists to learn more.
Depending on the type of business, there are specific safety rules to be followed due to hazards that are also specific to the type of work people do. However, there are also warehouse safety rules that should be adhered to by workers in any warehouse. Below are a few general tips to follow to ensure warehouse safety, regardless of business or industry.
Setting and maintaining warehouse safety programs is an ongoing process of identifying barriers to safe work and removing them from the warehouse operations. Any warehouse safety program should be tailored to the current condition, needs, and culture of the warehousing workers, but it should at least contain:
Improving warehouse safety takes small but consistent actions done by everyone in every area of warehouse operations, not just by safety personnel. Apart from having the required certifications and appropriate training, facilitating regular warehouse safety meetings or toolbox talks can help engage with frontline workers better, foster collaboration, and build a safety culture from the ground up.
Listed below are relevant warehouse topics you can discuss with your team:
If safety procedures and workplace hazards are disregarded in warehouses to cut costs, it exposes workers to serious risks of accidents and injury. Providing workers training on hazard awareness, conducting safety inspections, and implementing warehouse safety measures can help maintain a safe, secure and healthy working environment.
Regular warehouse inspections can help you be on top of hazards and risks present in warehousing and storage operations. A digital safety checklist can be a powerful tool to evaluate the overall safety of warehouses. Download these free warehouse safety checklists using iAuditor by SafetyCulture warehouse safety app.
SafetyCulture staff writer
Carlo Sheen Escano is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture based in Makati City, Philippines. Sheen has experience in digital marketing and has been writing for SafetyCulture since 2018. His articles mainly discuss risks in the workplace and well-known safety and quality processes used to mitigate them. Furthermore, Sheen is passionate about providing insights to global customers on how technology can help them to do the best work of their lives.
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