Did you know that 70% of all reported industrial accidents could have been avoided with proper safety precautions? Warehouse safety is a critical issue for employees and managers alike. In addition to the risk of workplace accidents and, in extreme cases, fatalities, failing to adhere to proper safety procedures can also lead to major financial costs to the company.
When it comes to warehouse safety, the most common problem area for companies is the loading dock, where roughly one-quarter of all industrial accidents occur. Anyone who has managed or worked in an industrial warehouse will tell you the same thing: the loading dock area never stops moving. That means there are simply far more chances for an accident to happen.
As a warehouse manager, you want to do everything you can to prevent loading dock accidents and the high costs associated with them. Remember, while your employees may be well-trained on all safety aspects of loading and unloading at your warehouse, that doesn’t mean that every truck driver coming into the dock will be.
Why is Warehouse Safety Important?
Safety is a major concern for many warehouse managers and anyone running an industrial operation. In 2020 alone, there were well over 200,000 warehouse-related injuries reported nationwide. These largely preventable injuries cost U.S. businesses $170 billion each year. In addition, for every warehouse accident that gets reported, there are an estimated 600 near-misses.
Some of the most common industrial warehouse accidents include:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Forklift accidents
- Getting caught between objects
- Getting struck by an object
- Exposure to hazardous materials
- Overexertion-related injuries
- Improper lifting
- Machine-related injuries
- Crashes and collisions
While fewer than 30 warehouse accidents result in fatalities annually, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s no reason why this number cannot be reduced or eliminated. The most common fatal incident to happen in warehouses is forklift truck overturning.
Now that we’ve established the scope of the problem, let’s explore some warehouse safety best practices, with particular regard to loading dock safety policy procedures.
Loading Dock Safety Checklist
So much of warehouse safety comes down to purchasing the right safety equipment and training your employees on how to operate it properly. By purchasing and maintaining all necessary equipment, you can prevent a large share of industrial accidents within your warehouse. Three of the most important products to deploy are truck restraints, wheel restraints, and warning lights.
Truck restraints, also known as trailer restraints, help semi-trucks remain attached to the building during the loading and unloading process. You never know when your forklift might fall off the loading dock, and a truck restraint can keep any truck that comes into your loading dock area from inadvertently driving off.
Wheel restraints are another crucial aspect of your loading dock safety checklist. They work to restrain one or more wheels on a transport vehicle, preventing uncontrolled movement away from the loading dock structure.
Warning Light Systems
Warning light systems are placed on the exterior of a warehouse building to control the flow of transport vehicles and keep workers safe. They flash red or green to indicate whether or not it is safe for truck drivers to proceed forward. The warning light system is connected to a system on the warehouse’s interior, so that when an employee goes inside the building, they can switch the light system to indicate to incoming truck drivers that there is movement in the back of the truck. When finished moving, warehouse employees can then switch the light the other way to show drivers that it’s safe to drive off.
Fall Protection Equipment
Fall protection equipment, such as barriers, gates, and chains, can be placed around the loading dock area to prevent accidental falls. Dock plates and boards prevent slips and falls with a slip-resistant tread for safe loading and unloading.
Other Safety Equipment
In addition to the equipment listed above, there are several pieces of ancillary equipment that can help maintain warehouse safety. Yellow taping can also help alert drivers to what their limitations are, while track guards, bollards and columns inside of a warehouse create a protective perimeter to guide loading traffic and designate boundaries.
See our full list of Loading Dock Safety Equipment here.
General Warehouse Safety Tips
Creating a safe warehouse environment involves not only purchasing the right equipment and conducting thorough training, but also fostering a company culture where warehouse safety is heavily emphasized. Establishing clear warehouse safety rules, setting strong loading dock safety policy procedures, and adhering to OSHA rules and regulations are all important steps toward a safer warehouse.
Consider bringing in a third-party consultant with expertise in the area of warehouse and industrial safety. Expert safety consultants can assist you in formulating a safety plan that will minimize the risk of workplace accidents and financial losses.
Also, work with your team to communicate safety priorities and come up with a warehouse safety checklist that they can utilize each day, as well as a separate loading dock safety checklist. Being open and direct about your focus on safety will encourage employees to follow in your footsteps and become safety ambassadors themselves.
Door Systems Follows OSHA Warehouse Safety Best Practices
At Door Systems, we’re proud to say that many of our employees hold OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 credentials, with our ultimate goal being to train all employees in OSHA standards. Our industrial partners can rest assured that our employees have the appropriate level of awareness when it comes to warehouse safety, and will not become a liability when performing work at their locations. The last thing a warehouse company wants is for the installation partner they hire to become a safety liability – not only are accidents and injuries a risk, but also the possibility of extended job delays following a safety incident. Our high level of OSHA certifications serves as an indicator that our employees view safety as a top priority.
Door Systems aspires to not only comply with regulations across North America, but to exceed and protect our workers and customers with ever-increasing standards of safety. Read more about our Safety Standards here.
Partner with Door Systems for high quality equipment and superior service, with safety top of mind!