Running a warehouse comes with many responsibilities. From logistics and staffing to inventory and returns management, there’s plenty to think about. And at the top of this long list of duties is health and safety.
Although it may not directly contribute to profits, effective health and safety practices can make or break a business. Having the right processes in place keeps you, your staff and your customers safe. It allows your staff to keep working efficiently and effectively which does in turn have a positive impact on profit.
But simply ticking the right boxes is only half the battle. With a bit of creative thinking and some process reviews, you can actually streamline your health and safety practices in order to minimise workload and maximise productivity. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some warehousing health and safety must-haves.
Control Your Traffic
Warehouses can be busy places. From third party delivery drivers to your own forklift operators and on-foot staff, there can be a lot of traffic. Giving staff clear instructions about where to drive, walk and stand can be an extremely effective way of minimising risks as well as increasing productivity.
In order to do this, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars. You can use floor marking tape to make designated traffic lanes throughout your warehouse space. This will ensure that forklifts and other vehicles don’t collide with staff who are on foot. Having clear systems in place along with designated floor markings will allow your staff to coexist and work more efficiently.
In order for this to work effectively however, you need to make sure that you as management enforce these rules. The floor marking system is only effective if everyone follows the rules.
Prioritise Effective Cleaning
Cleaning is essential in the warehousing industry. With so much coming and going, the build up of dust and debris on the floors can be a genuine hazard. But whilst keeping the floors clear is an unavoidable part of running a warehouse, it’s often viewed as empty down-time because it doesn’t directly contribute to profits. When it comes to maintaining a high level of cleanliness without wasting hours of man-hours, investing in the right equipment is key.
Due to the inevitable large floor spaces that warehouses have, using a commercial floor cleaning machine is a no-brainer. Whether you use a ride-on scrubber or an industrial sized sweeper, you can ensure that your floors are clean and clear of dust and debris without losing hours and hours that your staff could be spending on more productive things.
Although it may cost you more upfront than a broom or a dustpan and brush, the amount of time and energy you will save on your cleaning processes will dramatically improve your overall productivity. In other words, you’ll save so much time on cleaning processes, the machine will pay for itself.
Focus on Ergonomics
A huge part of your staff’s job in a warehouse involves product and material handling. Ergonomic planning is essentially about making sure that all products and objects are within reasonable and easy reach of the operator. Basically, you want to minimise the amount of bending, stretching, pushing and reaching your workers have to endure in order to do their job. Keeping everything at shoulder level rather than stacked from the ground to the ceiling is a simple but perfect example of ergonomic planning.
You can of course take it one step further and design your entire warehouse to make work as easy as possible for your staff. For example, you can store the most frequently used items closer to the loading dock and put items that are often sold or transported together next to each other.
This might all sound simple enough but making tasks as easy and simple as possible for your staff will not only minimise risks of injury but also actually improve productivity and increase profits.
Health and safety is an unavoidable part of warehouse management. But instead of looking at it as a tick-box exercise, you can embrace it by adopting the practices outlined above and actually increase productivity in the process.