Keep your employees and facilities always safe and government-compliant, using the time-tested tips and insider information that we simplified here for your quickest execution.
Warehouse safety is a set of guidelines, principles, and practices of companies to manage their employees, physical spaces, and equipment. Its main purpose is to ensure the well-being of employees, teach them how to improve warehouse safety, and protect the client's bottom line.
It’s also one of the most important aspects of running a business because it promotes maximum productivity while minimizing injuries and the risk of death.
Warehouse safety involves creating an environment where employees feel comfortable working hard without fear of injury, especially in logistics warehouses. That involves installing all necessary precautions to prevent them from getting hurt. When employees feel like their workplace is safe, they're more likely to stay satisfied with their jobs than if they felt unsafe at all times during their shifts.
At its core, warehouse safety rules are created…:
1. The basics of warehouse safety: Why is it so important?
2. The OSHA warehouse safety standards to follow
3. The actionable steps to make warehouses safer
4. The definition and importance of HSG76
5. The critical warehouse safety tips and best practices today
It's no secret that a warehouse is a high-risk place. Warehouse safety rules are important because the warehouse is where employees are at high risk of being injured by moving equipment and materials, or by falling off of loading docks. Employees in all types of logistics warehouses are also working in close quarters with heavy equipment and toxic chemicals.
Warehouses are often large, open spaces whose dangerous accidents can scale faster, making safety protocols even more important. For example, if there's an electrical malfunction or a fire breaks out somewhere nearby, a workplace safety policy can guide everyone to a proper evacuation plan, so everyone can get to it safely.
If it’s dark with objects and equipment lying around, accidents can happen while loading trucks. In other words, to ensure that your warehouse is safe, you should make it clear in the warehouse safety procedures what the purpose of safety is in your firm and how it affects the business.
There are many hazards in warehouses that can endanger the lives of employees, as well as the safety and security of the building. Using the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive as the guide, here are the five major categories of warehouse hazards that justify why maximum safety is important in a warehouse:
The yearly survey of the U.S. National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed that there were 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2020 alone. The four most common causes of safety hazards in warehouses are the following:
Falls: Falls can result from a lack of proper lighting and preventive measures from misaligned pallets and boxes that create tripping hazards. They can be particularly dangerous in warehouses because these areas are often multi-story structures with high ceilings, spotlights, or skylights that can be hard to see around. To prevent falls, make sure there are adequate safety rails around all raised surfaces and that all elevation equipment is stable.
Heavy Equipment: Heavy machinery can be just as dangerous as falling objects—especially when it's moving or vibrating. This is especially true in logistics warehouses when it's operated by inexperienced staff members who don't know how to use them properly.
People who operate forklifts in storage warehouses may also be at risk if they do not take precautions to avoid back injuries. Accidents can occur if they try to lift something they're not used to lifting without proper training or equipment. This is why it’s vital to make sure operators wear appropriate protective gear. They also need to contact your local OSHA office if they suspect any issues with machinery could lead to injury or death.
Moving Parts:Moving parts like conveyor belts also pose a significant danger—especially if someone isn't paying attention while working near them without guardrails. They can get caught between two moving pieces of machinery—it's best practice to keep them covered when possible. Avoid wearing loose clothing while operating machinery that has exposed moving parts.
Slips & Trips: Slips and trips can also be hazardous for warehouse workers who aren't vigilant about keeping their shoes clean and dry during their shifts. These can occur when there are no warehouse safety procedures posted on slippery surfaces, such as wet floors or wet stairs.
These usually happen in areas leading up to higher levels, where there is a greater risk of falling off ledges. In fact, slips and trips account for more injuries than any other type of accident in warehouses—and these accidents can happen anywhere: on stairs, floors, or even sidewalks outside the building itself.
Other major warehouse hazards, injuries, and risks include:
The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) warehouse safety guidelines are in place to ensure that all workers are able to perform their jobs in a safe manner. These guidelines cover everything from ladders and scaffolding, to forklifts and conveyors for employees who work in distribution centers, storage facilities, and retail stores.
In an effort to ensure that these standards are met, OSHA audits have set forth a number of regulations governing the safety of warehouse workers.
Their general warehouse safety guidelines include:
For warehouse workers' general safety, falling more than four feet from an elevated work surface is considered a serious hazard. Employees who work on the ground or in areas where there are holes or gaps in elevated surfaces must be protected by a guard rail system or personal fall arrest equipment.
This includes platforms that may have been constructed without adequate safety precautions in mind but must nonetheless be used as part of a daily workflow or business operation. The failure to follow such warehouse safety rules could result in serious injury or death due to falling off of these platforms.
As a warehouse worker, you have to be aware of the safety standards that are in place to protect you and your co-workers. That's why it's important to make sure that you as an employee request from your employer all the OSHA protections in place, including protective measures such as slip-resistant mats or flooring systems like polypropylene or rubberized asphalt on work floors.
If you have any questions about how to keep your storage warehouses safer and compliant with OSHA standards, visit its official website HERE.
Rigorous warehouse safety guidelines can identify the risks that matter most to your business. To create a risk assessment, management needs to think about what could happen in each area of the business first, e.g. a manufacturing plant or office that would put the company at risk of losing money or damaging its reputation. Then it should write down all of those risks in order of priority: which ones pose the biggest threat? Which ones pose the least?
Once all of these potential threats are ranked in the warehouse safety procedures based on severity, take a step back and look at them as a whole—you may find that some are more common than others or that certain types of risks have more widespread effects than others do.
This will help guide how much time and energy should go into assessing them individually later on when you start talking about how to actually create an assessment plan. Download a free assessment plan in our template library.
Warehouses are often busy and noisy, with employees moving quickly throughout the space. This is what makes it important for managers to not only learn how to improve warehouse safety but also to take measures to ensure that workplace hazards are identified and addressed.
However, the first barrier that prevents companies from making their warehouses safer is that employees often don't know how to get help if they are injured on the job. They may be afraid to report their injury because they feel that they will be fired or demoted if they do so.
Another challenge is that many warehouses are not designed with safety in mind. For example, many work environments are crowded, which can make it difficult for workers to communicate with each other about potential hazards.
So how do you improve storage warehouse safety? A good strategy is to create a simple but powerful checklist with practical warehouse safety protocols. Here are some effective examples to include in your straightforward checklist:
To solve the problem of too many employees working in one place at once, the best solution is to break them up into smaller teams. Send them out into different areas of your warehouse for certain tasks. If possible, let them work remotely from home so that they don't have to spend time commuting in between locations.
To solve the issue of fear of reporting, companies should create a clear reporting process that allows workers to identify workplace hazards and report injuries without fear of reprisal. This can create an environment that encourages safe behavior among workers by implementing procedures for handling potential hazards without fear. It also helps to establish a system for reporting incidents, accidents, or near misses in real-time.
To solve the problem of employees being injured by forklifts or other heavy machinery, a good solution is to hire a professional to teach them. Let the expert teach them how to drive safely around these types of vehicles and how to avoid any dangers associated with them (such as getting caught underneath one if it falls over).
To solve the problem of inadequacy of knowledge, create a culture of safety at work by putting in place a comprehensive training program for employees who operate heavy equipment. This includes teaching people how to use the equipment safely as well as how to conduct regular maintenance on their machines. This can include both formal training sessions on warehouse safety procedures and on-the-job training as needed.
To solve issues of accountability in injuries or accidents, a good solution is to install CCTV cameras throughout your facility so you can monitor activity from afar without having someone watch over every corner 24/7. These should be done throughout the facility so that any accidents can be recorded and analyzed later on to improve safety practices further down the line. Should they occur again due to similar circumstances, the damage will already be lessened.
To solve the inadequacy of access control systems in storage warehouses, management must provide regular inspections of all forklifts used in the warehouse, including regularly checking the tires and brakes to ensure they are working properly. The reports should be transparent and accessible to assigned parties.
To solve the issue of lack of lighting and fire protection systems, install centralized lighting throughout the entire warehouse to save on costs. This is especially true when they work at night, when visibility is low due to foggy weather, or during bad weather conditions, like rainstorms or snowstorms.
To solve underperforming staff that results in more injuries, always make sure they are taking enough breaks on. Coach and help them avoid, for example, feeling scared that someone else will steal their spot on the schedule if they don't come back right away.
To solve the risks of slips and other injuries, make sure that the environment and equipment are clean and free from hazards, such as sharp edges or toxic materials. This includes providing workplace inspection templates to check for safety gear, such as goggles and hard hats. Ensure that there are no distractions like loud music playing in the background, which can cause people to lose focus on their tasks.
To solve the risk of falls, create a secure environment for employees by ensuring that there are no gaps through which someone could fall. Create barriers to avoid third parties to crawl into an area where they shouldn't be working alone.
HSG76 is a guidance document for people with management and supervisory roles that were first published by the Health and Safety Executive Department of the UK in 1992.
It's designed to help businesses understand their legal obligations when it comes to managing and commissioning health, safety, and welfare issues in their warehouses and storage facilities. It also guides businesses on how to assess hazards, eliminate risks and protect workers from injuries or ill-health.
The document is divided into three sets of warehouse safety guidelines:
- Part 1 covers general issues relating to health, safety, and welfare at storage warehouses.
- Part 2 looks at specific risks related to materials handling which might be present in some workplaces and provides advice on how to manage those risks.
- Part 3 covers how to make sure your warehouse safety procedures have effective systems for managing automated storage. This includes retrieval systems and temperature-controlled storage of packaged dangerous substances.
This act makes it illegal for an employer to put any employee in a dangerous situation and then fail to do anything about it. It also makes it illegal for an employer to fail to provide a safe working environment or fail to provide employees with adequate training on how to keep themselves safe.
In order to comply with HSG76, companies must take several steps:
To read the complete HSG76 guide that applies to all industries, refer to the official FREE document here, so you don’t have to pay for a PDF copy.
You're probably thinking: "What could possibly go wrong in a warehouse?" After all, if you're working in this industry, it's likely that you're very familiar with the safety precautions one needs to take.
But it's easy to get complacent. To avoid that, here are some dos and don'ts, safety tips, and best practices for quality managers to keep their team and employees safe:
You have questions or would like to schedule a personal demo? We are happy to help you!