And How to Account for Them
By Robert Brown
Practicing risk prevention and management in a warehouse is crucial for employee safety and goods protection. Managers who understand their facilities’ threats can take proper measures against them. This way, they can work to create a safe, efficient work environment.
Here are some potential warehouse risks and how to prevent and resolve them. Facility managers should make implementing these safety measures a top priority.
Flooding can be a notable threat, whether a warehouse is near a body of water or in a location that experiences frequent heavy rainfall. A flood can put workers’ safety at risk and damage the products stored inside. It can also lead to structural damage to the building itself.
Managers should take the following measures to prevent and limit the effects of flooding:
- Pay attention to the weather, especially when flood warnings are present.
- Keep all products and other valuable materials in secure locations off the ground.
- Maintain landscaping around the facility to remove debris and clear gutters.
- Equip the warehouse with backup power and water systems.
- Train staff to properly bring attention to flood hazards and follow flooding procedures.
- Install permanent barriers to prevent water from entering the warehouse.
- Have a professional conduct a flood assessment regularly.
All employees must follow written procedures to ensure their safety when a warehouse experiences a flood. After the fact, facility managers should have a professional inspect the area and perform a thorough cleanup before resuming operations.
Working in a warehouse can be chaotic at times — staff members are constantly on the move to stock, remove and ship goods. Unfortunately, a hectic environment can make falls more common. Every warehouse employee should take steps to prevent falls.
Managers should ensure the facility is clean and organized to prevent slips and other falls on the same level. If a spill happens, employees should immediately set up signage to block off the area until someone can take care of it. Similarly, workers should properly stock items and keep equipment out of the way.
Employees should wear fall protection when applicable to protect themselves when it comes to falls from different levels, such as ladders or forklifts. Further, staff must always use equipment properly — setting up ladders improperly or operating forklifts negligently can cause injury.
All warehouses must follow OSHA regulations to prevent falls so they can remain compliant. Educating staff can make a considerable difference, as well. OSHA offers many online resources that help workers learn about falls and how to prevent them, improving their safety.
Warehouses are often subject to security risks, including theft, due to the number of products they house. Keeping facilities secure is essential to maintain regular operations and reduce financial losses. These measures are specifically important for warehouses that process high-value goods.
Internally, managers should consider the following security methods:
- Set up security cameras and alarms throughout the warehouse.
- Implement electronic security cages to limit access to certain areas.
- Add proper lighting in each room, stairwell and hallway.
- Place signage indicating 24-hour surveillance.
- Create an organized sign-in method for visitors.
- Offer a way for employees to report suspicious activity anonymously.
- Always have a staff member accompany a visitor in the facility.
Security measures for the exterior of the warehouse include the following:
- Remove any landscaping that could serve as a hiding place.
- Add stationary and automatic safety bollards to create separation between areas.
- Install security cameras and alarms in entrances, docks and parking lots.
- Use an access control system that only lets people with the right credentials enter.
- Keep pathways, entrances and parking lots well-lit.
It may also help to employ security professionals who can observe the warehouse’s camera systems and check people in to provide another layer of safety. Often, the sheer presence of a security guard will make a bad actor think twice about committing a crime.
Employees can be involved in various moving parts on any given day. A warehouse can easily become a space that lends itself to collisions between retrieving goods, moving equipment and cleaning up. Additionally, distracted behavior can lead to negligence that causes a crash.
Minimizing collisions will increase worker safety and reduce product damage. Managers should be sure to train all employees on how to work safely around heavy machinery. They should only let certified operators use that equipment in the warehouse. An extra measure to consider is reorganizing the warehouse’s layout to improve efficiency and safety at the same time.
Fire departments across the United States respond to an average of 1,210 fires in warehouses every year. A warehouse fire can be extremely detrimental to worker safety and product quality. Many facilities contain various rooms, meaning limiting and controlling the flames is of the utmost importance.
Having measures in place to prevent and limit fire damage is crucial:
- Install fire detection and suppression methods, such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers.
- Create an action plan employees can follow in the event of a fire. Train them accordingly.
- Keep the facility up to code — a professional can help with inspections.
- Set aside a secure area for storing flammable goods and materials.
6. Environmentally Toxic Substances
Some warehouses contain environmentally hazardous substances that workers must handle with extreme caution. OSHA outlines chemical hazards and toxic substances that facility managers should be aware of to ensure safety in their facilities. Further, municipalities could have regulations about how workplaces need to address said materials.
Issues like spills or contamination may create dangerous situations that harm workers’ health and leave the warehouse unusable. Aside from conducting regular inspections, it’s essential to secure the facility in other ways. Every organization should take various measures when dealing with hazardous elements:
- Provide the right PPE, such as face masks that offer ventilation, to relevant workers.
- Label hazardous materials clearly and accordingly.
- Store products so they’re secure and separated when necessary.
- Implement emergency procedures that all workers understand and follow.
- Dispense of all materials according to the law.
Warehouses Require Protection From Various Risks
Like any workplace, a warehouse is subject to various risks, some of which are unique to the setting. Taking the right measures to prevent and limit the damage caused by different threats is essential for worker safety and goods protection. Warehouse managers must implement a safe environment for their employees, which directly translates to higher productivity and revenue.