Maintain Warehouse Safety During the Peak Holiday Season
After the seasonal workers are hired and shipments are planned down to the minute, there’s still one more task that you need to complete to ensure a great holiday season: planning for warehouse safety.
When warehouses and distribution centers operate at peak capacity — or, even worse, beyond — the risk of workplace injuries increases exponentially. There are more workers on the ground, and they're all moving faster than normal. The volume of throughput requires more manual lifting.
Even winter weather conspires to increase the risk of slips and falls by depositing a healthy coating of snow onto everyone's boots. It may be snow on the dock, but it will soon be water on the warehouse floor, which is a recipe for disaster.
As you complete your preparations for warehouse operations during the peak season, keep the following safety tips in mind:
Make plans to keep walking surfaces clean and dry.This isn't just a great way to prevent slips, trips, and falls — more than half of which can be prevented through floor maintenance, according to EHS Today. It's also the law.
OSHA Standard 1910.22(a)(2) tells employers that "the floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition."
This crucial maintenance task only gets more difficult in the winter, when workers may track in snow, sleet, and ice. Train staff to stop what they're doing and clean up puddles of water wherever they encounter them.
Don't neglect the dock.Clean, dry conditions are even more important on docks than they are on warehouse floors, if possible. A slip in an aisle might break a bone. Falling off the dock can be deadly.
Provide ergonomic lifting equipment.Musculoskeletal injuries are unfortunately common in material handling industries even during the calmest months. If you don't outfit every workstation with lifting equipment, your staff will lift packages themselves — and might end up with a painful injury, requiring sick days at the busiest part of the year.
Consider Mobile Lift Tables to lift and transport loads of virtually any size. These powerful steel platforms also provide an ideal variable-height work surface. That makes all the difference when workers engage in repetitive tasks, such as packing orders.
Perhaps more than any other factor (except maybe wet floors), training staff will prevent a serious injury. Even if your regular full-time employees know their way around warehouse safety, remember that you'll have an army of temporary workers to train before they take on a single task.
You might have to hire a week ahead of time, but be sure that every worker receives thorough training in ergonomics, operating machinery, and safety procedures before things get busy. Warehouse safety efforts pay off with the first prevented accident.
“ 11 Key Issues to Consider for Peak Season Planning.” MHLNews. Penton, 11 Aug. 2006. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.
Hamel, Karen. “Not Letting Floor Problems Slip By.” EHSToday. Penton, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.
“Walking-Working Surface: 1910.22.” OSHA. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.