• Warehouse Safety: Some things you should consider

    One of the most important elements of warehouse safety is adequate employee training. That training should include basic workplace safety as well as how to operate the tools and machinery needed to keep the warehouse running smoothly.


    While many workplace accidents are the result of inexperience, others can be the result of too much experience. Employees can become so comfortable after working with a piece of heavy equipment such as a forklift for a long period of time that they forget how potentially dangerous they can be. That fact became all too evident in a case in which the owner of an equipment training school was thrown from a forklift and crushed to death--during the filming of a forklift safety video.

    Forklifts and the OSHA Industrial Lift Truck Standard

    Statistics show that there are approximately 34,900 serious forklift-related injuries and 85 fatalities each year in the U.S. alone. It's much more difficult to approximate the degree of human suffering associated with those statistics. The businesses where these accidents occur must often pay heavy fines and find themselves embroiled in costly lawsuits for years as a result of that suffering. Many are driven out of business as a result. To reduce the number of forklift injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now provides a useful daily checklist that can help ensure their safe operation.

    Slips and Falls

    Slips and falls are another common cause of workplace injuries, especially in warehouses where employees are in constant motion. Taking a few simple preventative steps can reduce the risk considerably. Clearly marking elevated areas, including steps, with reflective tape is one of those steps. Others include regular inspections for any type of potential hazards on the floor, including liquids, dark spots that can indicate slippery oil stains, loose materials or boxes. Anti-slip floor tape has also proven to be an effective safety tool. If the warehouse has more than one floor, installation and regular inspection of guard rails is vital.

    Warehouse Safety Equipment, Fencing and Barriers

    Sometimes injuries aren't caused by people falling, but by objects falling on them. The risk of being injured by a falling object is higher in warehouses, where items are stacked for storage. When employees lift loads to a higher level, the load must be secure. While plastic wrap may be sufficient to secure lighter loads, heavier ones may require metal or cloth straps. Plastic is also affected by temperature, and can stretch when exposed to heat.

    Having the right number of employees for the job is each job is also important. For example, there should always be a spotter while loads are being placed on high shelves that are not directly against a wall. Having someone to observe and direct for proper placement is the only way to avoid a precariously placed load that could fall off onto the other side.

    Hazardous Substances

    Warehouses usually contain a number of potentially hazardous, and flammable, substances. Those substances can contribute the safety hazards such as fire and exposure. That makes regular inspections of the storage containers for those substances for leaks a necessity. Exposure to hazardous substances can result not just in temporary illnesses, but in permanent physical damage.

    NEW! Updated Hazardous Materials Regulations

    Electrical outlets and extension cords should also be inspected regularly in any workplace where flammable substances are stored. According to the most recent information available, electrical malfunctions are involved in 18% of the 1,210 warehouse fires that occur every year. According to statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association, that makes it the single largest contributing factor.

    Safety Training

    Adequate safety training is essential for improving employee performance while reducing safety risks. While training can be costly in terms of time and personnel, it's not as costly as potential worker's compensation lawsuits or hefty government fines. According to 2012 statistics, the number one cause, of workplace injuries, or 25%, were the result of overexertion. Those injuries resulted in an estimated cost of $15.1 billion dollars. Safety training that includes proper lifting techniques is the most effective way to reduce those numbers.


    Investing in safety training actually saves money, but more importantly, it saves lives. Insurance actuaries and courts may decide the monetary value of a lost life, but for loved ones, the real value of a life is impossible to calculate.

  • 5 Key Considerations for the Safe Lifting

    Lifting equipment that lifts heavy loads to carry them from one place to another is used on construction sites, oil rigs, the logging industry and even in the marine industry. While the nature of the equipment used varies from one industry to another, there is one common theme that runs through them, which is the fact that all lifting equipment should be used safely and in the right manner. If you want to maintain the highest standards of safety for the workplace in which such equipment is used, you must make sure such equipment is used the way it is supposed to used.

    Let's take a look at five considerations that must be kept in mind to ensure their safe use:

    1. The Right People Must be in Charge of Lifting Operations

    The first step towards ensuring the safe use of lifting equipment is that they need to be handled by the right people. These are the kind of people who have the required competency to not just plan but also supervise the lifting operation. The person in charge of the lifting operations must have hands-on experience in carrying out extensive risk assessment, and also the necessary supervisory expertise to identify the right personnel who can actually carry out the specific lifting operation.

    The lifting team must be composed of people who have the necessary proficiency in using the lifting equipment and performing the lift as per the specified instructions. They must have extensive competency in using the lifting equipment safely and ensuring that their operation does not pose any danger to people working in and around this equipment.

    2. Identification of Hazards to Lifting Plan

    Another important aspect of using lifting equipment safely is to take note of the potential risks the lifting operation is subject to, much before the operation begins. Some of these potential hazards can include windy conditions, heavy rain, dust storms, haze, glaze or a poorly maintained wire rope.

    For e.g. if the lifting operations are going to be conducted in windy conditions, there is a chance that the stability of the lifting apparatus will be affected; in this case lifting personnel need to plan for such instability. Here, they need to plan for a worst case scenario where the destabilized load can drop from a height. They need to be able to come up with a solution that helps minimize the risks of such hazards. It's important to note that the identification of risks, their evaluation and control is a very important part of a safe lifting operation. Even if the lifting operations are going to be conducted in conditions where the personnel “think” there is zero risk, identification of potential hazards and the risks presented by them, needs to be worked out.

    3. Following proper safety procedures during lifting operations

    Following safe operating procedures of lifting devices is an absolute must. Operators must ensure that the load carried by the lifting device isn't greater than its maximum rated load carrying capacity. Also, while lifting the load it must be carried as close to the ground as possible. Something else that the operators of lifting devices must take care of is that the load should never pass over other people, meaning they must make sure the load path doesn’t hold potential risks to any personnel at the work site.

    There can also be a case wherein the operator of the lifting device cannot see the path of the load clearly because of lack of visibility due to bad weather or for some other reason. Here, lifting operations can either be shut down until the visibility clears, or they can take the help of other trained personnel to guide them as per the right path. These and many other operating procedures need to be kept in mind to make sure that the lifting equipment is used safely without harming anybody.

    4. Inspection of Lifting Equipment

    Regular inspections of these devices ensures that the machinery is performing the way it's supposed to, and there is nothing wrong with it. The first thing you must take care of is that the machinery needs to be examined by a competent authority who knows the ins and outs of the working parts of this equipment. This ensures the person can identify the technical problems if any and if there is any damage that has been sustained by the lifting devices. Inspection must be carried out as per the recommendations of the manufacturers, and the number of inspections can be greater than the manufacturer's recommendations but not less than the required number.

    The process of inspection must involve a very thorough examination of all the moving parts and safety features of the device and check them for wear and tear. If the inspector identifies a particular problem with the device and thinks it can affect the safe handling of a load, this damage needs to brought to the notice of the supervisor in charge of the lifting operations without delay. In this case, if the person in charge of the inspections believes the device cannot be used safely on account the damage, the person's recommendations must be followed and the device not used until the damage is fixed.

    5. Maintenance of lifting equipment

    If you want to optimize the functional and safety potential of lifting equipment, it's of paramount importance that it is kept in ship shape. The maintenance of this lifting equipment can include the regular lubrication of the necessary parts making the fixes if and when necessary. This also includes correcting all the serious damage or the wear and tear that was identified as a result of the process of inspection. Essentially, the maintenance of lifting equipment involves taking care of its safety components, critical parts, structural and support components, propulsion system and load-handling components.

    By taking care of these 5 considerations, you can make sure that the lifting equipment is used keeping all the safety aspects in mind. This will ensure the safety of the work place is not compromised in any way or form, courtesy the lifting equipment. Whether it's personal safety achieved through the use of fall protection equipment or general safety achieved through the proper use of lifting equipment, each and every bit of effort is important if you want to create a safe work environment for all the working personnel.


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