In today's world of automated warehouses and speedy supply chain fulfillment processes, it's more important than ever to ensure worker safety in the warehouse. In 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.2 percent of warehouse employees suffered a workplace injury, and 3.7 percent had to have time off work or be transferred to a different facility. Companies understandably want to reduce this number, and it's important to have safety measures and policies in place. Policies that enforce government regulations, warehouse design and the use of voice picking technology are all strategies that work toward a safer facility.
1. Implement and Enforce Appropriate Policies
This is the most basic first step to making sure your warehouse is safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces strict regulations. Companies are required to follow these regulations, and your policies should reflect their guidelines.
Inbound Logistics reported that APL Logistics, a transportation services provider based in Phoenix, Arizona, listed the three most common types of workplace accidents in their facilities: slips, trips and falls; lifting and reaching pains; and material handling accidents like dropped boxes and forklift incidents. Make sure your safety policies touch on all of these kinds of accidents.
2. Design Your Warehouse for Safety
There are small design improvements that you can use to make sure your workers and products are visible at all times within the warehouse. For instance, Health Safety Training Limited lists bright clothing and large, luminescent safety signs as two possible solutions to visibility concerns. However, when placing signs, be sure not to overdo it, because that could lead to an employee unintentionally ignoring signs.
3. Foster Worker and Manager Engagement
According to Gary Gagliardi, vice president of Safety Resources, it's important for managers and workers to come together to understand challenges related to safety in the warehouse and come up with solutions.
"Companies need a culture of safety," Gagliardi told Inbound Logistics. "Creating a safe work environment requires a good deal of effort, but it brings benefits to both workers and management."
This culture of safety will help managers and workers alike understand their unique challenges and develop a plan of action to tackle workplace concerns.
4. Use technology to Your Advantage
Technology can be essential in helping to make your warehouse more functional and safe for employees, as well. For instance, according to an RFgen white paper titled, "Using Voice-Directed Work in the Supply Chain: What IT Executives Need to Know," voice technology can make it so that workers aren't looking down all the time and aren't too distracted to notice potential safety hazards. Using voice picking allows employees to remain diligent in the warehouse around them.
The advantages of voice picking transcend safety issues, as well. Workers can quickly and easily manage inventories without looking down at notepads or tablets, and the productivity gains from the implementation of this kind of technology can range from 11 to 50 percent, according to the RFGen white paper.
A safer warehouse means more productive workers and lower chance of accidents. Make sure your company has the right strategies in place.