There is an understandable obsession with having your distribution depots be as efficient and useful as possible. More efficiency means more clients, more money, a larger company, more jobs, and in general more success. However, it should never be set at the cost of safety and security.
Namely, there are certain safety measures that need to be implemented in any warehouse or distribution depot. These are not only a legal obligation but a moral one as well. It will help you avoid legal fees and governmental penalties, as well as help people, see that you actually care about your employee’s wellbeing.
Implement proper organization
Proper organization is key to safety. You can get all the best training, equipment, and markings, but it all won’t matter much if your people are preoccupied. By having a depot that is properly organized, you will make it easier for your employees to actually find what they need to find, and to put away what they have to put away. This means they will spend less time wandering around, keeping their minds on their tasks, trying to find whatever they are looking for, and more time on staying safe. Think of a poorly organized warehouse as a matter of draining your employees’ concentration. And of course, the poor organization also means you won’t be able to implement other necessary safety measures.
Keep it neat and tidy
By keeping your depots and warehouses clean, you greatly increase employee safety. People are less likely to trip, fall, or slip. Remove any and all empty boxes, get rid of excess junk just lying about. Clean up the trash, and have people mop up any spills. The last thing you want is for an employee to trip and hurt himself. Teach your people to regularly clean up after themselves, and help them understand that it’s for their own good.
Keeping things clean also means your employees won’t have too much trouble reading labels and instructions. An illegible label means extra work for your people, and can significantly lead to them making an error.
Make it easy for your people
Most accidents happen due to a split-second lapse in concentration. You want to make it so that for certain areas of workplace safety, concentration won’t be needed that much. Most warehouses and distribution depots have areas that store dangerous machinery and toxic chemicals. You want these areas to be marked as dangerous and marked as areas that should be approached with caution. Furthermore, certain areas should not be accessed with forklifts or pallet jacks – place very clear labels and signs for this as well.
Another thing you can do to make things easier is getting a good convex mirror inside the depot. There are certain hours during the day when the workplace is just buzzing. The last thing you want then is for a forklift operator to lose sight of another employee. You also want to adhere to all regulations regarding the width of your aisles. Sure, we know, more shelves mean more money, but tight and narrow passageways are just asking for trouble.
Take care of your equipment
A big part of the warehouse and supply depot safety is taking care of the equipment. All of the gear in there needs separate cleaning, maintenance, and replacement work. Know that a lot of machinery in depots handles heavy loads. A break in a piece of equipment that hasn’t been inspected properly can lead to heavy cargo falling on an individual.
Always keep this in mind – a small problem can morph into a big one if you let it. At worst, faulty equipment can lead to serious injuries. At best, you will lose money on replacement parts, when all you actually needed was a thorough inspection and some basic maintenance.
Train and educate your people
Finally, the best way to take care of your employees is to teach them how to take care of themselves, and to give them the tools to do so. Now, most companies do train their employees when they hire them, and they do give them the right gear. The problem here, however, is that this may have happened a decade ago. Times change, society moves forward, and technology is shifting constantly. This means that you should regularly train and re-training your people. Just because they had a safety course 15 years ago doesn’t mean the lessons learned then are still valid.
Maintaining safety at your distribution depot is not as hard as it sounds. It mostly centres on making things easier for your employees and educating them properly. It also means you should get them the right equipment, and setting up the entire place appropriately. Mark dangerous areas, keep the depot clean and tidy and actually keep things organized in an efficient and intelligent manner.