Nowhere is the need to establish safety as a high priority more critical than in public warehousing and storage. Warehousing and storage facilities are not only a central component of business supply chains but also the source of hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries in the US every year. Warehousing and storage facilities rank high on OSHA’s target list for inspections because of the wide variety of potential hazards associated with warehouse operations.
A comprehensive approach to establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all warehouse workers begins with a full assessment of the workplace to determine potential hazards. A thorough hazard assessment shapes safety rules and policies, which are then documented and communicated to all employees, including contract and temp workers. An effective safety training program must be sponsored by top management and rolled out to all supervisory personnel, who then assume responsibility for the training, monitoring and enforcement of safety policies among all employees.
A review of the most frequently reported accidents and the most common OSHA citations for warehousing and storage can provide an overview of some of the key elements of an effective safety and health program, including:
- Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks
- Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure
- Dock areas
- Hazard communication
- Guarding open areas
- Access and facility layout
- General housekeeping and equipment maintenance
Focusing on these warehousing and storage problem areas will help reduce hazards, eliminate accidents, ensure compliance with OSHA standards and create a safer and healthier environment for all workers in warehouse and storage facilities.