Workers in warehouse and storage facilities in the United States continue to experience a large number of injuries requiring days away from work. A great many of these injuries are musculoskeletal disorders, with the most common being sprains, strains, and tears.
If you manage facilities in the warehousing industry—or if you manage a facility that includes a warehouse—make sure you employ the following proactive design measures right now to enhance worker safety:
- Floor marking tape. Marking lanes with tape can help workers stay out of forklift aisles and machine areas and away from running conveyors and other potentially dangerous work zones. Tape is a good start, but it must be enforced by employee discipline and other means to control these areas.
- Guardrails. Used in addition to tape at corners, guardrails can prevent forklifts from cutting corners and force drivers to pay attention while approaching corners. Drivers won’t swing inside or outside the corners, which can influence the way they drive the entire distance.
- Aisles for employees (or forklifts) only. Limit some aisles to pedestrians or forklifts only. This can be done with floor tape but is most effective when done with a railing that presents a solid barrier between industrial traffic and workers.
- Bright clothing for workers. Require workers to wear bright clothing. This increases alertness and helps ensure that drivers see workers in the area.
- Upgraded lighting and clear aisles. Cluttered aisles can cause visual obstructions that make it difficult for workers and forklifts to see each other. Clutter can also cause forklifts to maneuver in ways that put people and equipment at risk.
- Ergonomics. Design the warehouse so everything in the workstation is within the operator’s reach. Require the minimum amount of movement because tired workers tend to make more mistakes and get injured more easily.
- Safety and antifatigue mats. The mats improve working conditions, reduce fatigue, and make operations safer and more efficient. Use nonslip mats in oily, wet, or slippery conditions.
- Cable protective covers. Fire hazards can arise in a warehouse or distribution center when protective insulation is worn off electrical wiring because of repeated traffic.
- Safety curtains and screens. A noisy compressor is relatively inexpensive to screen off, which reduces the noise and can also reduce sparks or airborne debris.
- Safety lights and signs. Safety lights and signs help prevent dangerous collisions and injury.