Warehouse safety is always a concern for company owners, safety supervisors, forklift drivers, and even pedestrians walking through cargo management areas. Despite visible involvement by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in day-to-day warehouse activities, accidents and injuries continue apace. What are certain hazards to pay attention to? We went right to the source from one of the leading forklift safety experts in the industry: CEO Tom Wilkerson of ForkliftCertification.com. FLS is one of the premier online OSHA forklift training&compliance companies, with many satisfied (and compliant) clients all over the United States. Here’s what Mr. Wilkerson had to say on the topic of smart, sustainable warehouse safety practices. .
Every year, OSHA releases the most common safety violations recorded from the past 365 days of training gaps, accidents, injuries, incidents, investigations, you name it. And every year, like clockwork, violations involving powered industrial trucks (just a fancy way of saying “forklifts”) are in the top 10. For example, the fiscal year 2018 ranked forklift violations as the 7th-most common safety violation.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If your training is locked in, and your forklift operators are aware of certain hazards and hidden dangers, there’s no reason why fiscal year 2019 has to repeat history, at least in terms of forklift safety violations.
Let’s examine some smart things you can do – today, right now – with your warehouse to increase safety and decrease the chance of accidents and injuries.
Get on a maintenance plan. A forklift maintenance program is required by OSHA, although you wouldn’t know it, the way some companies operate. Maintenance procedures identify that loose hose, that flat tire, that seemingly minor problem that eventually becomes a major safety issue. Start your forklift maintenance plan today – your forklift drivers will thank you!
Clean as you go. I don’t mean having a spotless warehouse – no such thing exists. However, even the smallest bit of debris on the floor (plastic from a wrapped pallet, a piece of wood, spilled product from the top shelf – creates the “perfect storm” of an accident waiting to happen. Have your crew inspect and clean up any obvious hazards prior to each shift.
Gear up. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key aspect of hazard avoidance – simply because some hazards are going to happen, whether you like it or not. Make sure your lift drivers are protected with safety gear (helmets, goggles, gloves, etc.), so they’re prepared whenever trouble is up around the corner. Stay prepared – ensure your PPE requirements are met on a daily basis!
Don’t overload your lifts. Tipovers are one of the most common forklift accidents, and a big reason that forklifts always make the infamous OSHA top 10 violations list. Why so many tipovers? Drivers aren’t sure how much their forklift can carry. Check your user manual or operating guide for this information. And if you’re not sure, check with your safety supervisor. Determining hazardous loads before they’re transported is always a good idea.
Get trained. It’s illegal to have an untrained employee drive a forklift. The fines and penalties from OSHA in this case could cripple your company. Training is the key for identifying hazards beforehand. Experienced, well-trained lift drivers just know what to do – and training is key in this regard. If you want to reduce or eliminate workplace injuries, get trained today.