Performing regular warehouse safety checkups is a must. The end of the year is a perfect time to get a fresh start on better organization and workflow. Standard advice and templates from organizations like OSHA are a good place to start, but they don’t take into account the quirks and anomalies of your particular warehouse. Instead, try starting from a top-down approach by considering the following before getting started.
Reduce Your Inventory
The safety of a warehouse can sometimes have little to do with employees, equipment, or shelving. The more physical inventory and stuff in your warehouse, the more likely it is that your system will spin out of control regardless of any other choices you may make. During the checkup, look for ways to get rid of any extra inventory. This tip should also be applied to practically everything in your warehouse, from extra supplies to clutter and waste. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re going to need an item in 2018, it’s usually best to either recycle or dispose of it.
Near-Misses Are Your Enemy
When it comes to worker safety, the amount of ‘almost’ accidents is a very big deal. When there are no incidents or injuries from day to day, owners and managers can easily become complacent about the safety of their warehouse. They don’t realize that it’s the near-misses that provide the fastest route to teasing out the real problems. Encourage managers to become more aware of potential pitfalls, and employees to speak up about their duties. If workers feel as though they’re in danger whenever they perform a certain task, it’s these areas that should get immediate attention on the checklist.
Optimize Your Picking Paths
A safe warehouse is highly dependent on the logic of the picking paths. This is a good time to conduct your own research before January 1 to see where you’re losing time to inefficiency. It’s also a way to see which hazards a worker exposes themselves when picking. Talk to the workers about how they feel about the routes, and what they would like to see done to accommodate their needs. The more they understand the thought process, the more likely it is that they’ll follow protocol.