How to Create a Productive Warehouse Environment

As a warehouse operator, there are two crucial, bottom line factors that will determine success or failure: safety and productivity. And the two go very much hand-in-hand.

However, it’s surprising how many warehouse managers ignore the most basic of safety concerns to try to gain even the smallest of productivity gains.

When working within an environment with so many potential dangers such as large machinery like forklifts and pallets and racking, safety should be a priority.

According to a recent survey, injuries and health problems associated with poor working conditions cost companies £14.3 billion in 2016/17.

Are making up small gains in productivity really worth losing manpower and money?

Proper Use of Machinery

If your personnel are in charge of certain machinery and they aren’t adequately trained on how to use it, then you’re just asking for trouble.

PPE – Everyone working on the warehouse floor, whether it be employee, manager or supervisor should be charged with ensuring their personal protective equipment is in excellent condition.

Machinery – Any warehouse relies on machinery such as pump trucks and vehicles like order pickers, and if the users and those around them aren’t correctly trained then it’s just an accident waiting to happen.

Regular Training Refreshers

 

As we’ve alluded to in the previous point, without knowledgeable and competent staff, their roles cannot be performed effectively. Accidents will happen sooner or later when an employee takes on a task or uses machinery that they haven’t been appropriately trained to use.

It’s for this reason that all staff must undergo regular refresher training and should do so periodically from their first shift to the last.

Clear Safety & Emergency Procedures

To ensure that everyone on the floor is aware and is actively following safety procedures in regards to PPE, equipment use and loading/unloading areas, you should display clear instructions at all times.

However safe the workplace is, bad things do happen, so it’s vital that the people on shift are completely aware of how to deal with a situation if the worst does occur.

Clear signage should instruct staff and answer questions such as:

  • Where is the nearest emergency exit?
  • Who is the first-aider on shift?
  • Where are the nearest fire extinguishers located?
  • Where is the nearest eye-wash station?

Of course, these are just a few examples; they’ll be a whole host of other things you will probably need to consider.

Make Everything Easier

 

Warehouse work is not easy; you’re always under pressure and working in such conditions along with heavy machinery means that the possibilities for an accident are nearly endless.

You can help to make things a little easier for your employees by applying a few straightforward measures:

  • Invest in ergonomic equipment to minimise the risks associated with lifting, turning and strained movement.
  • Ensure that the lighting covers every corner of the warehouse.
  • Painting a pedestrian lane in areas where heavy lifting and machinery is used will prevent someone from idly walking through an area where potentially dangerous activities are taking place.
  • Install guardrails to prevents slips and falls.

No employee will be happy at work if they think that you aren’t taking their safety concerns seriously.

Regular Risk Assessments

Putting warehouse safety into practice is the simplest part of the jigsaw. Keeping it all together over in the long-term is the hard bit, and the only way to keep your finger on the pulse is by undertaking regular risk assessments

These assessments should focus on the machinery and equipment as well as the staff.

Different parts of your assessment will require more focus than others, for instance, a piece of machinery used on a daily basis will require more frequent inspections than those that are used weekly.

The following list details some of the typical areas your risk assessment may cover:

  • Is all of your equipment, machinery and vehicles in good working order?
  • Are all fire exits and walkways clear of clutter?
  • Are all cords and potentially dangerous packing materials packed away or correctly disposed of?
  • Are all lights working correctly?
  • Are all of your employees using equipment correctly and wearing PPE?

There are many procedures you need to be aware of to ensure that your warehouse is compliant with all legislation and safety standards.

It’s up to you to be aware of these standards, which could vary from industry to industry. In most cases, this will be enough to avoid unnecessary accidents and potential legal action.