Warehouse safety regulations refresher
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety regulations not only specifies what measures an employer needs to take to operate lawfully, but it also offers excellent guidance on identifying and tackling potential hazards in the workplace. Observing general health and safety practices can become so day-to-day that it's easy to allow complacency to slip in. And that's when accidents are more likely to occur.
Scrolling through the accident reports listed by OSHA can be rather sobering, especially when you consider that there are over 140,000 workers operating in more than 7,000 warehouses across the U.S. and accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Keeping on top of your warehouse safety doesn't require perpetual vigilance, but keeping in mind a few key areas and getting into the habit of regular checks and refresher training sessions with staff could mean the difference between a successful day and a fatality.
Commonly cited OSHA warehouse regulations
Warehouses are busy and heavily populated, so of course there are many areas where hazards can form. These are some of the commonly identified "problem areas," most of which are typical in warehouses of all kinds:
- Exits: Proper signage and designated access to emergency exits should always be maintained.
- Fire extinguishers: Not only is it vital to have the right fire extinguishers available for the types of possible fires within your warehouse, but they should be professionally maintained and tested regularly.
- Hazard communications: Anything from signage around the workplace to the availability of Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) documentation for handling potentially hazardous materials.
- PPE: Where relevant, the responsibility to provide suitable and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) to any employee using hazardous materials or equipment is down to the employer.
- Electrical wiring: As many warehouses can be quite old, it's possible that the wiring hasn't been properly updated to adhere to the latest standards and regulations.
Many of these potential issues can be handled in-house, with experienced members of your team identifying and resolving them fairly quickly and easily. Some, however, may require the engagement of a health and safety advisor to visit and assess your warehouse. If you feel that you could benefit from the help of a professional, a comprehensive health and safety audit will be able to give you a full list of action points rated by priority and severity that you can tackle systematically.
Bearing in mind that OSHA can issue fines of up to $30,000 for infractions of regulations, it's very well worth the initial expense of an audit to be sure that you don't have any unknown problems lurking round the corner. Safety regulations are continually changing, and it's the responsibility of the employer to keep up to date with them.
Not only does a proactive health and safety program keep you from incurring unwanted fines or penalties, but it means you have done everything you can to keep your staff safe and productive. This won't go unnoticed by current employees or prospective new starters, who will want to know their well-being is a priority of the company.