Tips for Improving Industrial Workplace Safety
Safety in the workplace should be the foremost concern for every manager and supervisor, no matter what industry they work in. It doesn’t matter whether your employees are working on a sales floor, a construction site or an industrial warehouse. As members of a managerial team, it’s up to you to implement the policies and make the changes necessary to keep every worker as safe as possible.
While the underlying concern of workplace safety should not change from industry to industry, it’s no secret that some workplaces are inherently more dangerous than others. For example, employees are more likely to experience an injury when working in an industrial setting than when working in a computer laboratory. If yours is a workplace where employee safety is at a higher risk, it’s up to you to meet those risks with increased workplace safety regulations.
Today, we want to walk you through some industrial workplace safety tips. Some of these, you may already practice. Others may be new and may provide just the inspiration you’ve been looking for to make your workplace a little safer by preventing employee injuries. See how many of these tips and practices you can incorporate into your workplace and experience the difference they can make.
The Importance of Workplace Safety
Did you know that every seven seconds a worker is injured on the job? Even though you may never have had a severe injury or incident in your workplace, statistics like this should give all of us pause. If your workplace hasn’t taken the proper measures to ensure the safety of everyone involved, then you could quickly end up being just another of these statistics. Injuries can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time if you haven’t taken the necessary steps to secure your workplace.
It’s easy to see why you should want to work towards preventing warehouse injuries. The first and most obvious reason is that it’s the compassionate thing to do. As a person who’s responsible for the safety of others, it’s important that you care for your workers and do everything in your power to send them home in the same shape they arrived to work in. Beyond this moral reasoning, however, there are many other benefits to preventing injuries, as well.
In 2017 alone, there were 104,000,000 production days lost due to work-related injuries. All these lost days have real-life consequences in the form of lost production for the companies in question. Because these workers are injured, they aren’t at work doing their job, meaning the company isn’t making as much money as they might otherwise. In addition to this financial loss, injuries that occur on the job are also expensive because they often necessitate compensation for the injured worker. All of these expenses can add up very quickly, making it financially beneficial to avoid such injuries.
Another benefit of implementing extra manufacturing workplace safety measures is improved morale among your workers. Your employees will feel better working someplace where they know their supervisors care enough to keep them safe. This will result in greater enthusiasm for their jobs and increased work ethic, which may lead to higher profits and greater productivity with concrete financial benefits for everyone involved.
Industrial Workplace Safety Regulations
Because industrial workplaces are more prone to injury and accidents, there are regulations in place designed to keep everyone safe. And while these regulations include rules that your workplace will need to follow, you should also take steps that go beyond following these rules. Instead, think of these regulations as the bare minimum. By not following all applicable rules, your workplace will be out of compliance and may face consequences. However, your workplace is encouraged to go above and beyond this bare minimum, implementing many other safety precautions on top of this baseline.
Just a few of the OSHA-mandated warehouse workplace safety considerations you should be implementing in your manufacturing setting include:
- Providing visual warnings near dock edges
- Not allowing anyone under the age of 18 to operate a forklift
- Training employees on the risks associated with any chemicals onsite
- Prohibiting smoking and open flames around charging stations
- Properly utilizing storage areas by storing heavier loads on bottom shelves
There are many more of these regulations, which all represent the most basic level of necessary safety measures, but these examples do a good job of explaining the types of regulations these are.
Tips for Improving Warehouse Workplace Safety
As a responsible warehouse supervisor or owner, you should always be looking for new and improved ways to keep your employees safe. If you’re looking to improve in this area, then we want to help. Here are just a few of the warehouse safety tips we recommend including in your workplace.
1. Spread the Importance of the Safety Mindset
You can implement all the safety measures in the world, but at the end of the day, they will only be as effective as you and your employees allow them to be. For safety to truly become a priority in the workplace, everyone on your team needs to be on the same page in regards to its importance. After all, you can post plenty of warning signs around dangerous equipment, but if people choose to ignore them, nothing will change.
You, your managers and every employee all need to work together to create an environment where everyone has a safety-oriented mindset. Only once everyone practices this same mindset can you feel confident that your workers will heed posted warnings and implement the proper safety measures, rather than scoffing at them as unnecessary complications.
2. Provide Personal Protection Equipment
Most warehouses and centers of manufacturing are filled with heavy equipment and moving pieces of machinery. All of these are open invitations to injury if you haven’t taken the proper precautions. In many cases, these precautions involve providing your employees with personal protection equipment.
Personal protection equipment is gear that employees wear to keep themselves safe on the job, or while operating certain pieces of equipment. This equipment might include items like helmets, gloves, fireproof jackets and heavy-duty boots. These pieces of gear will vary based on the specific needs of your warehouse. Whatever the situation may call for, it’s crucial that you provide this protection to everyone who needs it.
3. Handle Hazardous Materials Correctly
If your warehouse handles or stores hazardous materials onsite, you must store and transport these materials properly. If your employees don’t handle these materials responsibly, you may find them escaping their containment and causing a variety of contamination problems, illness or injuries.
Every type of hazardous material is different and is subject to a variety of regulations, which means that you’ll need to acquaint yourself with these rules and set your warehouse up to follow them. This may mean installing the correct storage materials, giving your employees the proper gear or setting up the right warning symbols to denote the types of materials present. Depending on which hazardous materials you’re dealing with, you’ll need to be ready to adjust your warehouse as is necessary to accommodate the required safety protocols.
4. Make Proper Training a Priority
People can’t practice safety protocols they aren’t aware of or that they don’t understand. As a manager, it’s your job to make sure everyone on site knows how to stay safe and keep others around them safe. This means providing training and plenty of it. Some of this training will center around basic workplace best practices, but some of it will also pertain specifically to certain pieces of machinery.
There are plenty of ways to give your employees the training they need to understand the appropriate safety protocols. You might schedule training days, where the whole team sits down together to learn a new safety measure. You can pass out instructional videos or texts as mandatory materials for your employees to peruse. You may even choose to bring in safety experts to talk to the team about the importance of handling new equipment correctly. You can provide this training however you see fit, as long as it’s effective.
One of the most important parts of providing this training for your employees is keeping your information up to date. Best safety practices and protocols are changing all the time, meaning that these are changes you’ll need to stay on top of. As regulations and recommendations change, you’ll need to provide new training for your employees to keep them informed of any changes in best practices that you may be implementing in your own workplace.
5. Maintain a Clean and Sanitary Workplace
Maintaining a clean workplace is such a basic concept that it may seem to be beneath our mentioning, yet its effect on your workplace safety is so profound that it’s worth mentioning anyway. Whether it’s something as simple as a power cord stretched across a highly trafficked area or stairway littered with items small enough to trip over, these pockets of clutter can lead to major injuries. For this reason, it’s crucial to remove them.
Luckily, clutter issues are easy to address. Set up training sessions that explain the importance of properly storing items and clearing walkways. Post signs reminding employees to return items to their proper homes and implement a policy of zero-tolerance for clutter of any kind. You may be surprised at the difference that eliminating these small hazards can make.
6. Practice Proper Maintenance and Repair of All Equipment
Equipment that isn’t properly maintained is dangerous, often representing an accident waiting to happen. Forklifts, shelving units and conveyor belts aren’t meant to last forever and, eventually, they will wear out. If you aren’t careful, this natural wear can lead to a variety of accidents as equipment begins to fall apart while it’s in use, harming workers in the process.
The good news is that you can easily prevent these types of accidents. By conducting regular maintenance on your equipment and fixtures, you can catch most problems before they have the chance to grow into injury-causing incidents. In doing so, you can not only prevent accidents from happening but also help your equipment last longer by regularly repairing small problems as they come to light.
7. Ask Your Employees to Be Proactive
No matter how committed you are to providing a safe workplace for all, you’re only one person, and you only have one set of eyes. You can’t be everywhere at once, and you can’t see all the different workplace hazards that might exist across your work site. This is where your employees come in.
Work to create a culture where your employees feel empowered to report unsafe conditions when they notice them. This means expressing gratitude when employees do make a report, as well as acting swiftly to resolve the issue. Doing so ensures your employees that their concerns matter and will encourage them to continue reporting such conditions in the future.
8. Encourage Proper Lifting Techniques
When we think of workplace injuries, we may often think of dramatic events that are the result of major accidents. But often, the injuries we experience in the workplace are much smaller and more mundane. Strained or sprained muscles as a result of improper lifting are huge contributors to workplace injury statistics, and while these might not be the most dramatic injuries, they can still put your workers out of commission.
Take the time to train every worker in proper lifting techniques, including bending at the knees and keeping the back straight while lifting. Post signs around the warehouse to remind workers of these lifting procedures. If you feel it’s necessary, you might even host periodic training sessions to keep these techniques fresh in your employee’s minds.
9. Give Your Employees a Break
Injuries are most likely to occur when your employees are tired. Because they’re fatigued, they may fail to follow the proper safety protocols, leading to a variety of dangerous situations where accidents are much more likely to occur. Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this situation, and that’s to allow your employees to take enough breaks to feel well-rested and capable of giving their full attention to their work.
Worried that you’ll lose money while employees take these breaks? The money you’ll save by avoiding injury payments and the increased productivity your employees will exhibit when they’re on the floor will be well worth it.
Stock Your Warehouse With Our Safe and Efficient Storage Solutions
Are you looking to supplement your warehouse safety training and manufacturing safety tips with safe storage options? Look no further than our industrial storage products. Just a few of the products we can offer your warehouse include:
- Vertical storage carousels, custom-designed to suit your storage needs
- Custom rack solutions, built to provide quality storage for items on the move
- Sheet metal storage racks, for keeping your facilities safe and organized
To learn more about these and other storage solutions and how they can benefit your warehouse, we invite you to contact us.