Warehouse Safety: Leading Techniques to Keep Your Team Safe

Safety is one of the paramount priorities in warehouse operations. Due to the environment, the risks of accidents and injuries are considerable. However, there are also many opportunities to minimize that risk. These include proper procedures, organization, and safety practices. A well-run warehouse can promote safety with every task as employees work together to securely handle inventory and watch out for one another's safety during a workday. This requires a professional approach. Leadership, training, proper equipment, and safe routine procedures are necessary to improve overall warehouse safety. They also ensure a safe work environment for your staff. We will take a deep dive into the methods you can use to professionally address warehouse safety concerns.

Identifying Common Warehouse Safety Concerns

The first step is to identify common safety concerns within your distribution center so they can be prevented or minimized. Typical safety hazards include safe lifting, preventing falls and falling objects, and the safety of forklift operators. Depending on what your warehouse stores, there may be some concerns about hazardous material handlers. Then there are the typical workplace risks like handrails, spills, and the safe flow of traffic.

Make a list of all the specific and general safety concerns within your warehouse so that you can address each one directly.

Implementing Comprehensive Safety Training Programs

Employee training is one of the most important precautions any employer can take. Employees who understand both the importance of safety and the best practices to maintain safety will contribute to your safe working environment. They will look out not only for themselves but their team members as well. They will also perform tasks using the safety protocols necessary to prevent accidents and avoid mishaps.

From the proper way to stack products on tall warehouse shelves to the proper communication to prevent collisions, training makes a profound difference.

There are several types of safety training programs to consider

  • General Safety Training - Workplace best practices for safe routines and maintaining a safe environment.
  • Equipment Safety Training - The proper and safe way to use each piece of equipment.
  • Teamwork Safety Training - Guidance on how to achieve better safety when working as a team.
  • Emergency Procedures - How to respond in an emergency to prevent or minimize injuries and equipment damage.
  • Refresher Courses - Yearly reminder courses to ensure safety protocols are fresh in your employees' minds and still regularly put into action.

Woman holding a tablet while explaining warehouse safety policy

Establishing Clear Warehouse Safety Policies and Procedures

Every warehouse should have clear safety policies and procedures. These policies are custom-tailored to the organization and workflows of your warehouse. They refine safety best practices to best suit your warehouse needs. 

Develop written safety policies that enhance the efficiency and safety of your warehouse environment. Then, create a training and visibility program to communicate these policies effectively to all your employees. 

Ensuring consistent enforcement of your safety protocols will help them to soon become part of your company culture. Employees will help each other maintain safety as part of upholding the company policies.

Investing in Proper Safety Equipment and Infrastructure

Quality safety equipment is extremely important. Each team should have the proper safety equipment and work environment (ex: safety barriers and railings) for their tasks. Using the wrong equipment, the wrong size of equipment, working without the proper equipment, or using safety equipment incorrectly can all lead to disaster.

Correct safety equipment for warehouse operations include:

  • PPE - Personal Protection Equipment - Gloves, protective eyewear, lifting belts, coats for cold storage, etc.
  • Safety Barriers - Prevent close access to running machines or drop-offs on the floor.
  • Signage - Clear instructions on safe procedures and equipment use.
  • Freight Moving Equipment - Drum handlers, forklifts, wheeled dollies, pallet stoppers, and other equipment to safely handle large and heavy inventory.
  • Safety Infrastructure - Rack backing, column protectors, proper materials storage, etc.

Once you have acquired the right equipment, make sure it is installed and/or properly integrated into the workflow so that you gain the full benefit.

Female worker sorting out boxes in food manufacturing

Encouraging Employee Involvement and Reporting

Employee involvement is crucial in preventing accidents and injuries. While training is an important start, behavior-based safety programs provide the reinforcement you need to ensure your employees are dedicated to daily safety best practices. Behavior-based safety is about recognizing and rewarding employees who use proper safety practices while actively correcting unsafe behaviors in the workflow routine.

Through these methods, you can promote a culture of safety awareness and accountability for individuals and teams on your warehouse staff. 

Don't just encourage safety, also provide avenues for employees to take action. They should be able to correct safety issues. Also, report safety concerns or incidents anonymously to avoid friction within teams.

Recognizing and rewarding proactive safety behavior is a powerful way to build a culture of safety. It also motivates your team to be as safe as possible at all times.

Conducting Regular Safety Audits and Inspections

Even with robust safety policies, training, and team reinforcement, safety risks can still be overlooked daily. This is why it is still important to conduct regular safety audits and inspections.

Safety audits involve a trained safety professional with a checklist who will investigate every corner, surface, and routine to ensure that they are optimally safe. Safety and quality inspectors look into equipment maintenance, safety infrastructure, and the general safety of the workplace environment. Together, these procedures can catch safety risks that had slipped through the cracks before they caused a problem, and add another point of attention that employees should be able to maintain with proper training.

Responding Effectively to Safety Incidents

What should your team do if a safety incident occurs? Slips, dropped inventory, or accidents involving equipment all require swift and attentive responses. 

Establish clear protocols for responding to both accidents and near-misses. Reinforce the importance of documenting every incident and investigating thoroughly to identify both the risks present and how to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Then, implement corrective actions to minimize incident recurrence.

Staying Updated on Regulatory Compliance

Keep apprised of any changes to regulations and compliance requirements. Regulations are built around safety best practices. Not only should you maintain necessary compliance standards for warehouse operations, but by staying updated on regulations, you can also increase your overall safety in line with developing methods to minimize workplace hazards and risks.

Ensure your ongoing compliance through regular assessments of the current laws alongside your procedures and infrastructure. Make adjustments as necessary for the benefit of your business and team.

Man holding a box in a warehouse

Keep the Right Number of People on Staff With On Time Staffing

The final step to maintaining warehouse safety is to ensure the right number of people are on staff at all times. Being short-staffed not only increases demand and stress but in a warehouse, adequate staffing ensures each team's ability to safely perform jobs that require more than one person, like operating equipment and handling large-sized inventory.

On Time Staffing provides the light industrial staffing solutions you need to keep your warehouse well-staffed even with the industry's typical high rate of turnover. There are many benefits to using an on-site staffing partner compared to a traditional temporary staffing agency, but among the greatest is the safety assurance that comes from our close partnership with you in managing warehouse workers using our time-tested safety program and having the right number of qualified people on the job at all times.

Maintaining Your Warehouse Safety Standards

Safety standards can be built into your warehouse from the ground up. From creating a safe work environment to building a culture of safety with your teams, safety can be integrated into every aspect of your warehouse operations. Addressing safety concerns in your distribution center allows you to prioritize the safety and well-being of employees and the success of your business.

To make your safety program complete, access the warehouse staff you need with On Time Staffing and our HireSatisfaction program to provide highly effective recruiting, screening, onboarding, and management of the light industrial staff you need along with our expertise in warehouse safety.

Contact us to find out how we can help you with your warehouse staffing needs.