Make your warehouse safer and pass your inspections easier by using a warehouse safety checklist.
A warehouse can be filled with safety hazards which, if left unchecked, can cause serious harm to your employees or visitors. According to OSHA, the fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average. If you run a warehouse, safety is paramount.
In a warehouse, the most common safety hazards include:
- Repetitive motion injuries.
- Improper use of equipment like forklifts, WAVEs, and pallet jacks.
- Improperly stacked products.
- Employees who don’t use personal protective equipment.
- Failure to adhere to protocol for lockout/tagout procedures.
Lack of proper fire safety provisions, like fire extinguishers or fire blankets.
With so many things that can go wrong, it’s hard to keep track of everything without a method. A warehouse safety checklist is one method that will help you maintain a safe environment.
What Is a Warehouse Safety Checklist?
A warehouse safety checklist is a list of things to inspect related to safety. In addition to keeping your warehouse safe, using a safety checklist to conduct your own walkarounds will help you pass official inspections.
What To Include on Your Warehouse Checklist?
- Your safety inspection checklist should be simple enough to complete quickly, but thorough so that nothing is left behind. You’ll want to check for the following hazards:
- Building Safety: Check for damage to windows, walls, floors, doors, the roof, etc.
- Obstructions: Check to make sure nobody is leaving pallets in the middle of walkways, or packaging in front of exits. Obstructions can quickly become a dangerous fire hazard if people can’t get through an exit.
- Trip Hazards: Check for electrical cords to make sure none are being draped across the floor or up high where someone might run into them with a forklift.
- Storage Rack Integrity: Check your storage racks for damage, missing parts, and uneven shelves that are leaning because of too much weight. Also be sure the heavy items are being stored on the bottom of your shelving so heavy items don’t fall from above.
- Lighting Issues: Lighting is critical for safety. Make sure all the important areas are well lit, including offices, restrooms, corridors, fire exits, lunchrooms, and loading docks.
- Cleanliness: Your warehouse should be free from clutter and trash in all areas. Also check to make sure the restrooms are being maintained and are sanitary.
- Ventilation: Working ventilation is required to keep a warehouse dust-free.
- Protocols for Liquid Spills: Make sure spill stations are stocked with powder to clean liquid spills and that everyone knows how to use it.
- Proper Use of Equipment: Make sure employees are properly using all machinery and equipment.
- Label All Hazardous Materials: Of all the OSHA infringements, improperly labeled hazardous materials are the second highest.
- Fire Safety: Are all fire extinguishers in the right spot? Are any missing? Does your sprinkler system work? If you’re storing chemicals, is there a risk of explosion from a fire?
Warehouse Safety Tips
In addition to performing your own safety inspections, here’s what you can do to make your warehouse safe.
1. Keep Equipment Maintained and Up To Date
Your team is only as safe as the equipment you give them. Everyone can follow all of the right safety procedures and best practices, but it won’t make a difference if critical equipment fails at the wrong time.
To prevent equipment failure hazards, establish a standardized schedule for equipment maintenance. Daily visual checks should be implemented before using any equipment, and we recommend thoroughly inspecting warehouse equipment every six months to assess its condition and perform preventative maintenance.
Regular monitoring can help you determine what needs to be repaired or replaced, which keeps equipment in good shape, simplifies budgeting, and reduces the chances of hazardous failures.
2. Certify and Continually Train Machine Operators
Always make sure anyone who operates machinery, like a fork lift, is certified and well-trained. Don’t just have people take a written test and do a quick run down an aisle, teach the nuances of how to use a fork lift and evaluate their competence.
Continual training is also important. People get comfortable and complacent in their jobs and sometimes that involves letting safety protocols fall to the wayside. Continual training reminds workers of your company’s safety protocols, which helps them follow those protocols.
Require periodic recertification as part of your ongoing safety training protocol. This will force workers to take a refresher on basic equipment safety.
3. Stop Unsafe Practices Immediately
It’s critical to put a stop to unsafe practices immediately when you see something happening. For instance, if you catch workers “dock jumping” or climbing the shelves to reach an item up high, you need to end that practice immediately. Never ignore any instance of a safety issue or violation. If new workers see people doing something unsafe, they’ll think it’s okay and they’ll do it, too.
4. Use the Right Signage
Whether you’re marking exit doors or putting warnings all over your dock, make sure you use the right signage. Only use stickers where appropriate. For instance, you need lighted signs for your exits, but stickers are great for dock warnings.
5. Crack Down on Horseplay
Horseplay is inevitable. At some point, someone’s going to be messing around in a dangerous way. Crack down on this behavior so that nobody gets the impression that it’s okay.
You might also see workers doing something dangerous that’s trending online. Thanks to the internet, people are performing dangerous stunts and “challenges” and many have gotten hurt in the process. If you see any kind of horseplay, put a stop to it fast.
6. Enforce Team Lift Policies
Every worker knows what it’s like to need to move a heavy box with no one around. Many workers just find a way to move it on their own, risking their safety in the process. Although it doesn’t always result in injury, many warehouse workers injure their backs and other parts of their body from lifting boxes on their own.
When you enforce your team lift policies, you’re putting your workers’ health and wellbeing first. You’ll also avoid the kind of injuries that lead to workers’ compensation claims and/or personal injury lawsuits.
You may want to make ignoring team lift requirements a fireable offense after two or three warnings. Consequences are generally the best way to ensure your workers take a safety rule seriously.
Don’t Skip the Warehouse Safety Checklist
A warehouse safety inspection checklist is the best way for you to ensure your warehouse remains safe for your workers and visitors. Don’t skip this important tool. You can prevent serious accidents and injuries with a solid warehouse safety checklist.