Posted On: December 18, 2020
Modern warehouses are large spaces, organized into designated areas, with machinery doing heavy lifting. But modernization has brought downsides. Warehouse safety is a huge concern for warehouse owners and personnel.
People who work there are often risking their lives and warehouse managers need to be aware of the unique safety challenges that their personnel face.
Safety challenges faced by warehouses in India
Warehouses are spaces where humans work alongside heavy equipment and machinery such as forklifts, lift stackers, and so on. When personnel receive proper training in using this machinery, and adhere to them, productivity can be sky high. If safe operating practices are not adhered to, these can result in injury to personnel on the warehouse floor, as well as damage to the equipment.
Spills on the warehouse floor, wires or ropes have the potential to cause accidents, if not taken care of right away. Personnel can slip or trip up as a result of spillage and badly injure themselves.
Warehouse fires are an overlooked hazard but need to be paid attention. Unlike an accident involving a person or heavy equipment, fires can spread quickly through the warehouse because of the density at which product is packed. Not only that, a fire can take out all your personnel, machinery, and product in a short period of time. If your warehouse has exposed electrical wires, houses flammable substances, or has sub-par roofing, fire is even more important to watch out for.
Warehouses in India may be built to maximize storage space, and not much attention might be paid to ergonomic layout to allow personnel to do their job most efficiently, and with the highest degree of safety.
Improper stacking of pallets can lead to falling objects, which are a leading cause of injury to the hapless workers who happen to be in the vicinity.
Warehouse safety standards
Warehouse safety standards are codified requirements that warehouse owners and managers must follow in order to ensure the health and safety in their warehouses. When standards are present and followed, it encourages warehouse personnel to be active in learning about these policies, adhering to them, and point out co-workers who may not be following them as stringently.
The Ministry of Labour in India set up the National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Workplace (NPSHEW), which includes guidelines on warehouse safety. A stated goal is to “establish a preventive safety and health culture in the country through elimination of the incidents of work-related injuries”.
A review ofthese documents shows that though they are well meaning, they do not address the challenges to safety in modern warehouses. For e.g. The Warehouse Manual for Operationalizing Warehousing Development and Regulation devotes an entire section to the safe storage of pesticides but not much to other types of safety.
It is thus incumbent on owners of modern warehouses in India to establish best practices and standards. We can look at the standards published by United States Organization for Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for some ideas.
Some standards from OSHA, which can be adapted to the Indian context, are:
- Communication of safety standards through appropriate training
- Safe operation of forklifts
- Establishing and following SOPs in the event of emergency
- Marking floor/wall openings/holes etc.
- Clearly marked and operable exits
- Availability of fire safety equipment and training to use them
- Use of appropriate PPEs by all personnel
Warehouse safety management
Warehouse owners can foster a strong culture of adherence to safety practices by creating a warehouse safety management plan. The plan should include personnel safety training. When training is comprehensive, and adhered to on a daily basis, it can help to build an informed workforce.
Warehouse managers can also maintain a checklist of requirements specific to each warehouse area of operation, and encourage their staff to use them. Repeated practice of the correct procedures will lead to an organization wide culture of safety.
Training middle managers to personally follow safety practices and communicate them to those in their charge through regular meetings, poster presentations, periodic warehouse drills, mandatory annual trainings, can all serve to remind workers of what they learned in initial training.
As your warehouse builds a roster of best practices, modify your training to include those lessons learned.
Some tips on warehouse safety
- Train personnel in the proper operation and storage of machinery, and to follow safety SOPs at all times.
- Warehouse personnel should use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
- Ensure that aisles, perimeters, exterior areas, or other designated areas are clear and free of obstructions.Ensure that racks are bolted to the floor.
- Overhead sprinklers, fire extinguishers, etc., must be in working condition, and unobstructed with ability for personnel to reach them without effort.
- Emergency exits must be marked clearly, and warehouse personnel should be able get to their nearest exit without effort.
- Pallets should be stored properly, with no chance of tipping over.
- Adequate overhead lighting is paramount to safety. Identify any non-functional lights or any dark spots in the warehouse, where lack of lighting can cause serious damage to personnel, equipment, and products.
- Hazardous materials must be labeled clearly, and stored in designated areas of the warehouse.
- Ensure that dock doors are in working condition. Doors should open and close fully in order to not obstruct tall loads or machinery.
IoT and E-surveillance systems for warehouse safety
Many of the tips noted above depend on the diligence of humans in following them. Recent improvements in surveillance technology and Internet-of-Things (IoT) platforms make it possible to automate warehouse safety.
A warehouse e-surveillance system can proactively identify blockages to aisles or exits; identify areas of the warehouse that are poorly lit. It can help your control room monitor if your staff wears PPE at all times, and if SOPs are followed. Based on If This Then That ( IFTTT) rules, it can notify warehouse security and other officers of fires.
Investing in a comprehensive warehouse IoT and e-surveillance system, such as those provided by IGZY, can make warehouse safety less dependent on human intervention.
IGZY delivers e-surveillance and security solutions that make your business premises intelligent, safe and secure using ourstate-of-the-art unified IoT platform that is trusted by major brands i.e. ICICI Bank, Vodafone, Myntra.com, MJ Logistics and many more.
Ask for a demo today.