Creating a Safe Work Environment for Warehouses

Warehousing is one of the riskier industries due to high-powered machinery and vehicles operating within proximity of each other. Rapid growth in e-commerce is driving an ever-increasing demand for the delivery of products in shorter timeframes. Industrial and commercial warehouses are to keep up with this demand while complying with the current safety expectations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports thousands of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the warehousing industry annually. Many of those are caused by workplace accidents such as slips or falls, hazardous materials, and equipment malfunction. Warehouse safety should be the employers’ utmost priority to keep employees safe, ensure efficient operation, maximize productivity, and minimize injury or damage. Below are some factors to consider when planning a safe work environment for warehouse employees.

creating a safe warehouse environment

Building a Safety Culture and Procedures

Establishing comprehensive safety procedures can help prevent workplace accidents in warehouses and promote a safe work environment.  An engaging safety procedure starts from the top-down; management should walk the talk in cultivating such values into the company culture. While employees may have the required certification for the job, this does not always include in-depth safety training. Thus, providing ample opportunities for employees to access safety resources, including signage, safety stickers, regular safety meetings, and safety training, is essential in creating a safe work environment. Consider developing training programs with the help of industry subject matter experts that offer blended and interactive training solutions. Ideally, a comprehensive training program should include a good mix of on-site training, hands-on validation, online learningwebinarstoolbox talks, and virtual reality courses in multiple languages for easy access.

Other good practices include posting signs around the warehouse indicating different safety procedures, regular communication on safety tips, and announcements on new safety procedures. Incentivize workers to take safety courses and recognize their efforts to demonstrate exemplary safety protocol. Consider putting together a safety handbook or manual that includes potential hazards, safety protocols, and rules.

Lockout/Tagout Procedure

Establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout program that includes clear and precise lockout procedures for all workers is imperative, especially in heavy machinery warehouses. Routine training on using the equipment, shutting it down correctly, and isolating the power sources by following the proper lockout tagout procedures can prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety in your warehouse.

Key Takeaways

Warehouse workers are more likely to internalize the safety culture and take it seriously when they know the company is responsible, accountable, and invested in their well-being. A safe work environment helps warehouses build a good relationship with their employees and supports businesses in achieving higher recognition.

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Other related resources:

  • Warehouse safety best practices https://blog.sliceproducts.com/warehouse-safety-best-practices
  • Tips for improving warehouse safety https://ohsonline.com/articles/2021/04/01/ten-tips-for-improving-warehouse-safety.aspx
  • Warehouse safety tips https://www.fluxpower.com/blog/warehouse-safety-tips
  • Warehouse safety guidelines https://www.slideshare.net/envirotechint/warehouse-safety-guidelines

Infographic provided by Enviro Tech International

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OSHA Seeking Six-figure Penalties for Fall Hazards

Fort Worth, Texas The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited two contractors for fall hazards and is seeking six-figure penalties. On Sept. 17, OSHA cited RM Masonry and Stucco Inc. of Fort Worth for exposing workers to fall and silica hazards, a total of nine repeated and six serious violations. The offenses included failing to ensure scaffolding was planked correctly and secured, providing a ladder for safe egress, and inspecting scaffolding. Later, on Sept. 20, the agency cited Neal Weaver, an Ohio-based contractor, with severe eye and fall protection violations. The company has exposed its workers to deadly fall hazards for the sixth time in five years. OSHA is seeking fines totaling $216,265 and $253,556, respectively.

“Fall hazards make roofing work among the most dangerous jobs in construction,” Cleveland Area Director Howard Eberts said in a recent statement. “Employers must ensure that employees working from heights greater than 6 feet are provided with fall protection equipment and are well trained. Too often, OSHA inspectors find employees working on residential roofs without fall protection,” Eberts continued. OSHA’s construction industry fall protection standard (29 CFR §1926.501) is the agency’s most frequently cited standard, a total of 5,424 times in the fiscal year (FY) 2020. At the same time, the scaffolding standard (§1926.451) is the fourth most commonly cited standard with a total of 2,538 violations in FY 2020.

OSHA-cited-a-contractor-for-six-figure-penalties

Fall Protection is OSHA’s Most Frequently Cited Standard for the 11th Consecutive Year

In fact, for the 11th consecutive fiscal year, Fall Protection – General Requirements is OSHA’s most frequently cited standard. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented this preliminary data from FY 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30) on Oct. 12 during the 2021 NSC Safety Congress & Expo. Although several standards swapped positions, the criteria that make up the Top 10 Violations remained unchanged from FY 2020. The complete list is as below:-

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations
  2. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527
  3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948
  5. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113

Martin Technical encourages organizations to develop a robust workplace safety strategy by scheduling regular workplace fall protection training.

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OSHA Fines Vehicle Parts Manufacturer $1.6 Million

Ravenna, OH – Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) imposed a $1.6 million fine for a vehicle parts manufacturer’s 38 safety and health violations. The company was cited with four repeats, 18 willful, and 16 serious safety and health violations, following an investigation into the death of a 43-year-old worker on March 30. The tragedy happened when the barrier door closed on his head when loading a part into a machine.

OSHA alleged that General Aluminum allowed employees to bypass guarding mechanisms designed to prevent the barrier door from closing on them. A malfunction in the door’s optic control also existed before the deadly incident. The OSHA investigators also found a lack of Lockout / Tagout and effective safety management procedures throughout the vehicle parts maker’s facility, in addition to failure to protect employees from burn and explosion hazards.

Vehicle parts maker facing $1.6 million fine

General Aluminum Mfg was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) and is subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and increased agency pressure to abate cited hazards. Willful violations will be cited when an employer knowingly disregarded safety and health law and regulation or acted indifferently for employee safety and health. “OSHA will continue to hold bad actors accountable and emphasize the importance of complying with safety and health requirements that can save lives,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said in an agency statement.

Key Takeaways

Risk can be found in any workplace; it’s essential to avoid becoming complacent with health and safety procedures. Workplace health and safety training can positively influence an organization’s efficiency and productivity, reducing costs and saving lives. A robust health and safety policy cultivates a safe company culture. It helps organizations build a good relationship with their employees, supports businesses to achieve high recognition and good standing in their industry.

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