As companies continuously push to improve the efficiency of their warehouse operations, warehouse safety has also increased in importance. Warehouses want to find ways to do more (and do it better) with less manual effort. However, increasing the velocity of the warehouse shouldn’t increase risk.
Below are three ways to improve warehouse safety for workers while still ensuring maximum efficiency and productivity.
Focus on equipment and mobile device ergonomics: Warehouse employees use a variety of mobile computers, barcode scanners and printers. Make sure these devices were designed with ergonomics in mind – the proper weight and physical design to make them comfortable to hold, carry and use, while avoiding the risk of repetitive motion injuries or wrist strain.
Some companies have deployed wearable scanners and computers, which can improve both ergonomics and productivity. These devices may use headsets (for voice prompts) or wearable scanners or ring scanners to provide a more natural motion or hands-free operation.
Using wearables can make picking processes more ergonomic and allow workers to avoid looking down at computer screens, which can give them better visibility.
There are also light-weight handheld computers that improve ergonomics and warehouse safety. The Honeywell CK75 ultra-rugged computer, for example, is 31% smaller and lighter than comparable devices.
Other wearable devices, such as mobile printers, can also help reduce warehouse injuries by reducing the amount of walking employees have to do. The Intermec PB Series of mobile printers can be used to print labels at the point of activity, so workers no longer have to travel back and forth to a stationary printer.
Use proper signage and safety labeling: Make sure that your facility is clearly and properly labeled and marked to ensure that employees can easily identify safety hazards and other safety-related issues. This will help minimize safety issues in the warehouse.
Picking and driving paths should be marked so that employees on foot know to watch out for warehouse vehicles. Any areas that pose the risk of electrical shock, exposure to chemicals, or other dangers should also be labeled according to industry and OSHA standards.
Illuminate hazardous zones using tape or paint on the floor of the area so that employees can maintain awareness.
Clear location and directional signage can also help employees avoid collisions and reduce unnecessary walking. You can learn more about warehouse signage here.
Stay up to date on safety training: Warehouses often have high employee turnover, and many employee large numbers of seasonal employees during peak shipping periods. This means that not everyone in the facility has the same level of safety training.
Make sure that you have a robust safety training program in place for new and seasonal hires, and that existing employees receiving regular updates, including training that is specific to their operational role (driving a forklift or operating a crane, for example).
Managers should also stay abreast of changes to regulatory requirements and new potential safety hazards in their facilities – new types of products, inventory, or equipment that may require additional worker training.
Make sure all workers are aware of emergency evacuation routes and procedures, have the proper first aid training, and are equipped with the right personal protective and respiratory equipment.
Focusing on warehouse safety will keep your workers happy, improve productivity, reduce costs, and ensure that warehouse operations run smoothly. Using technology to improve safety can also positively impact productivity. Use the tips above to re-evaluate your own operations and consider investing in the right mobile and labeling technology to improve your safety program.