Warehouse safety is an important part of forklift safety, and at Toyota we know that safety is not an option. It’s a standard. Warehouses and other forklift environments should be places where operators, pedestrians, and managers feel safe and secure as they work accomplish important tasks. It can be easy to forgo warehouse safety reviews once you’ve established that your forklifts are in safe, working order. But a truly safe environment is one where safety is part of the culture, where continual audits are taking place, and where everyone feels empowered to recommend safety improvements. Those improvements can include ways forklifts are used, ways pedestrians can increase awareness, and even changes to the structure or equipment in the warehouse. The following warehouse safety tips can help you evaluate various areas on your warehousing operation to might make associates safer while working on and around your material handling equipment.
Warehouse Safety Tips: Conduct a Routine Warehouse Safety Audit
Many safety issues will be checked on your forklifts during your daily walk-around. But safety in the warehouse means also taking care of as many possible hazards in the warehouse itself as possible. Here are some possible things you might add to a routine warehouse safety audit.
- Electrical Safety
- Ensure outlets function
- Install and maintain high-visibility lights
- Workspace Safety
- Clear aisles to remove tripping hazards
- Avoid slip and fall hazards by immediately cleaning spills
- Make sure all work areas are kept clear of clutter
- Fire Safety
- Remove any and all fire hazards
- Make sure extinguishers are easily accessible and in working condition
- Clearly mark all exits
- Make sure exits are free of obstructions
- Hazardous Material Safety
- Make sure eyewash stations are in working order
- Clearly label all chemicals
- Make sure the MSDS for all chemicals are readily available to all employees
The above list is not exhaustive, but these points are vital to the continued safety of your employees. Additionally, all staff members should be given clear training on safety procedures in the event of a fire, accident, weather-related situation, or medical emergency.
Safety regulations for warehouses are maintained by OSHA, and it’s important that you audit your warehouse to ensure that your workspace is compliant.
Warehouse Safety Tips For Pedestrians: Dispelling Myths and Establishing Best Practices
Operators might feel relatively safe walking around forklifts, right? Most people do. However, they may not be as safe as they think without proper precautions. Forklifts weigh as much as a bus, and even the most skilled operators do not always see pedestrians, making it highly unsafe to ever assume having the “right of way” means you won’t be hit.
Check out these five common misconceptions held by pedestrians when working or walking around forklifts. Dispel these myths, and your operations might be less likely to encounter unfortunate collision-related injuries and deaths.
- If you can see the forklift, the forklift operator can see you. Depending on what the forklift is carrying and where you are walking, the forklift operator may not be able to see you. Make eye contact whenever possible.
- If you have common sense, you’ll be just fine walking in a warehouse full of forklifts. Common sense, though valuable, is not enough to keep pedestrians safe while walking in a warehouse.
- Only forklift operators need to be trained in warehouse safety. As previously mentioned, common sense is not enough for pedestrians to be safe in the warehouse. Training for pedestrians in the warehouse is imperative in avoiding accidents.
- The forklift operator can stop the forklift at a moment’s notice, should a pedestrian walk out in front of one. Depending on what the forklift is carrying, it can be thousands, and even tens of thousands of pounds. Getting a forklift to stop can take a few seconds, which can be a few seconds too many if a pedestrian is walking in front of it.
- As long as you’re watching out for incoming forklifts, you’ll be okay in the warehouse. Unfortunately, being struck by a forklift isn’t the only thing that can happen in a warehouse, there are other dangers too. Training pedestrians will make them aware of all potential dangers.
Developing a clear set of safety standards for pedestrians can help you dispel these myths and make safe pedestrian travel a part of your safe warehouse culture.
Warehouse Safety Tips For Pedestrians: A Clean Warehouse is a Safe Warehouse
With so many people, machines, and moving parts working together within the same warehouse, keeping your space tidy is critical to staying up and running – and to maintaining a safe working environment for employees.
Employees working in the same space as forklifts should be sure to remove debris from the area. Sawdust, packaging, and misplaced boxes or pallets can make navigating inside of designated areas difficult and increase the risk of slippage or tipover.
There are also risks to the internal functioning of forklifts when a warehouse is cluttered. Many forklifts are designed with cooling systems that suck up surrounding air near the ground, exposing their cooling systems to unnecessary risk of damage due to debris being sucked up. Forklifts can be damaged and overheat, putting forklifts, operators, and facilities at risk of harm. Toyota IC forklifts are designed to limit such risks. The air intake is positioned strategically high on the right rear overhead guard leg to limit dust and debris from entering the air cleaner.
Certain debris can also cause damage to a forklift’s steering or braking systems, which can jeopardize the life and safety of the forklift operator.
Occasional floor debris is inevitable. And when tight ground clearance is necessary for stability purposes, it can be easy for debris to get caught by a forklift. However, maintaining a clean warehouse is as simple as instilling strong housekeeping principles within your operators and other employees. It is up to everyone to play their part in keeping the work environment clean and safe.
Warehouse Safety Tips: Maintaining Floor Integrity
Forklift safety also means keeping close watch on the state of your warehouse floor and other driving surfaces. Forklifts are heavy machinery and ignoring floor damages in your facility can lead to serious safety issues for operators. A forklift can weigh close to five times the weight of a Toyota Camry when it is carrying its full capacity. That’s 14,000 lbs. of heavy equipment driving on your warehouse floors. If the floor can’t support the weight of your forklift, an accident can occur at any moment.
Many forklift operators’ tasks require that they drive lifts onto trailers. Trailers with rotted and cracked floors should never be driven on under any circumstances. The risk of a fall through is too great and the safety of your operators will be put at risk.
Floor loading specifications are available from your forklift manufacturer. Contact your local Toyota Dealer today with any additional questions.
Warehouse Safety Tips For Pedestrians: OSHA Warehouse Lighting Requirements
A warehouse with forklifts in operation poses enough safety risks without the added risk of it being too dark to see well enough. If it’s too dark to notice the equipment moving around or toward you, then you could be in serious danger.
Let’s take a quick look at warehouse lighting needs:
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides its lighting standards in lumens, which are the International System of Units measurement for the total quantity of visible light that a source emits. According to OSHA, a warehouse space that utilizes heavy equipment must provide at least two lumens per square foot.
An average living room typically uses 20 lumens per square foot, while a grocery store typically uses about 70 lumens per square foot. Think about the size of your warehouse and the safe operation of forklifts in that space when determining how to light your facility. Remember, obstructed visibility is one of the main reason for forklift accidents. A well-lit warehouse can help protect against operator error.
Sufficient indoor lighting is important for smooth workplace operation, but let’s not forget about those forklifts that operate outdoors. If a forklift operator is working without the aid of sunlight, additional lighting in the outdoor workspace or on the forklift itself is critical.