Warehousing has come a long way in the last ten to twenty years. Historically, they were only used as storage rooms for large businesses. Nowadays, most warehouse centres carry out tasks alongside or in place of some employees.
They are used by many organisations to streamline their inventory network efficiently. Warehousing now covers all aspects from obtaining to storing to circulating to delivering of products. Warehousing is critical for any kind of business.
In Australia, it is a steadily growing industry with a growth percentage increase of at least 16.8% from 2017 to 2018. With the rapid rise of competition, significant improvements have been made across the industry. One of the focus of these innovations is in the realms of warehouse safety and efficiency.
According to the Australian Worker’s Compensation Statistics, the industry accounted for the fourth highest frequency of personal injury claims here in Townsville and the rest of the country. The number of work-related accidents in this sector has highlighted the need to create effective safety solutions.
Here are some ways to improve safety in warehouses:
Identify and address safety hazards immediately
Hazards exist in every workplace. By identifying them, employers and managers will be able to control them better or eliminate them. A key step in any safety protocol is to carry out a workplace risk assessment on all environments, processes and equipment.
In Australia, every high-risk business is required to have an SWMS or a Safe Work Method Statement. An SWMS is a document that sets out the procedures to safely carry out specific tasks, including the operation of certain machinery.
It outlines the risks involved and the detailed measures needed to be put into place to control these risks. Simply identifying these hazards is not enough. It is important that employers and safety officers address and manage these risks right away.
In the same way, warehouse workers also have their duties to take reasonable care for their own health and safety. The most effective and practicable control measures should be implemented immediately. For instance, in many warehouses, a large amount of space is dedicated to pallet storage.
These pallets need to be stored properly in racking systems. Any dents and other damages in the racks can be extremely dangerous as it weakens the entire system and could cause sections to collapse. Once these hazards have been identified, the needed safety solutions should be put into place immediately.
Utilising bollard posts, column guards and aisle protection beams are some ways to prevent accidents from damaged racking.
Provide ongoing safety training
A very important element in warehouse safety is adequate employee training. Many businesses view training as costly in terms of time, money and personnel. However, they are definitely not as costly as potential lawsuits and government fines.
According to Safe Work Australia, 41.8% of warehouse injuries are the result of poor manual handling practices caused by improper and inadequate OHS (Occupational Health and Safety)Training. Workers end up with serious sprains and strains in their joints and muscles after trying to lift, carry and push heavy objects.
Training, however, should not stop with new employees. Safety rules and protocols often become forgotten over time. Over time, many seasoned workers become comfortable and complacent with operating large pieces of equipment. Once this happens, serious and even fatal accidents are most likely to occur.
With 41 deaths within the first three quarters of 2019, warehousing continues to be one of the most dangerous industries in Australia. Finding ways to identify and address warehouse health and safety hazards can be made much easier when employees are aware of when they are taking these risks.