Safety is priority one as far as warehouse managers are concerned. It should not only focus on how the forklifts are being operated or how they interrelate with pedestrians. Safety must be the underlining concept when it comes to moving and storing products.
To ensure that all employees buy into the safety program, warehouse supervisors must embrace it as their own and they need to be accountable. This includes how handling safety training programs are handled.
Of course, a warehouse worker must understand the safe manner in which to lift products. But safety should also be involved in transporting loads. How a worker carries and puts down a load as well as how they pick it up are essential.
Moving, Handling, And Storing Products
A warehouse worker needs to know his limitations when it comes to moving and carrying a load. If a load is bulky, it can’t be grasped or lifted properly. In addition, when a single worker can’t see around or over what he is carrying or when he can’t safely handle a load, he should seek assistance from other employees.
Many have suggested that handles or holders be attached to loads to minimize the chance that fingers will be pinched or smashed. Workers should also wear protective equipment when dealing with sharp or rough edged items. It is urged that you wear gloves or other kind of hand and arm protection. Eye protection is essential for preventing injury to eyes.
Experienced workers should be aware that when loads are heavy or bulky, the mover should wear steel-toed safety shoes or boots to prevent injury should the item fall on their feet.
It is essential that stacked loads be properly piled and cross-tiered when necessary. Take precautions when stacking and storing materials. Be sure that products don’t cause a hazard whether they are being carried or stored. Make sure that items are stored off the floor to avoid tripping. Make certain that flammable materials are stored so that they can’t get involved in a fire or provide fuel for an explosion. Also make sure that stored items are not contributing as a hiding place for rats and other pests.
Consider the item’s height and weight when stacking and piling. Also consider how accessible the item is to other employees. Non-compatible materials should be separated when stored. If products are stored in a silo, hopper, or tank, the worker who fetches them should have a lifeline and safety belt. Bound materials should be stacked, placed on racks, blocked, interlocked, or secured in some fashion to prevent sliding, falling, or collapsing. A load that weighs greater than what a building official may approve should not be on any floor of a building or other structure. In fact, it is suggested that load weight limitations approved by a building inspector should be adequately displayed in all storage areas.
Product height should also be considered when storing. This is essential when staking materials. Height limitations should be observed. For example, lumber should be stacked no more than 16-feet high if handled manually; 20-feet is the maximum stacking height if a forklift is used. To assure that this is followed, walls or posts can be painted with stripes that show the maximum stacking heights.
Nails should be removed if they appear in used lumber before stacking that lumber. Make certain that lumber is stacked and level on solidly supported bracing. It is essential that the stacks be stable and self-supported. Loose bricks should not be stacked more than 7-feet high. When the stack achieves a height of 4-feet, you should taper back 2-inches for every foot of height above the 4-foot level. When masonry blocks are stacked higher than 6-feet, the stacks should be tapered back to one-half block for each tier above the 6-feet level. Bags and bundles should be stacked in interlocking rows to assure they’re secure. Stack bagged materials by stepping back the layers and cross-keying the bags at least every 10 layers. Remove stacked bags from the top row first. Baled paper and rags stored inside a building must not be closer than 18-inches to the walls, partitions, or sprinkler heads.
Band boxed material or hold them in place with cross ties or shrink plastic fiber.
Make sure that drums, barrels, and kegs are stacked symmetrically. If stored on their sides, the bottom tiers should be blocked to assure that they don’t roll. When stacked on end, put plants, sheets of plywood, or pallets between each tier to assure a secure stacking. The bottom tier of stacked material of two or more tiers high should be chocked on each side to prevent shifting. Material that can’t be stacked because of size, shape, or fragility can be stored on shelves or in bins.
Structural steel, bar stock, poles and other cylindrical materials that are not in racks should be stacked and blocked to prevent spreading or tilting. To prevent a hazard to passers by when removing, pipes and bars should not be stored in racks that face main aisles.
Material Handling With Conveyors
Worker interaction with conveyors can be a hazardous proposition. A worker’s hands may be caught in a conveyor where support members or rollers run near the frame or over support members. Moreover, items that fall off conveyors can strike workers. They could also be drawn into the conveyor path and become caught.
Special caution can be taken to prevent injuries caused by conveyors. For example, an emergency button or pull cord can be installed to stop a conveyor at a workstation. Continuously accessible conveyor belts should have an emergency stop cable that extends the entire length of the conveyor belt so that the cable can be grabbed from any location along the belt. The emergency stop switch should be capable of being reset before the conveyor can be restarted. Before restarting a conveyor belt, workers should inspect it and clear what is causing the stoppage before restarting. An employee should never ride on a conveyor belt. The warehouse manager should place guards where a conveyor passes over a work area or aisles to assure that workers are not struck by falling items. If workers walk into the crossover, then a guard should be marked with a warning sign or painted a bright color to protect workers.
It is suggested that warehouse supervisors completely cover screw conveyors except at loading and discharging points. Use guards at these locations to assure that workers do not contact the moving screw of the conveyor.
Ergonomics In Material Handling
A well-designed warehouse is one where the working environment adapts to the worker rather than the worker adapting to the working environment. Ergonomics in the working environment assures that the job is adapted to fit the worker.
Ergonomics involves restructuring or changing a workplace to make the job easier and to reduce stress that can cause trauma and repetitive motion injuries to the worker. Ergonomics should be employed to assure safety. Ergonomics improvements can include reducing the size or weight of objects that have to be lifted, installing a mechanical lifting aid, or changing the height of a pallet or shelf.
Remember, a considerable amount of injuries can be avoided by implementing an effective ergonomics strategy and in training workers in the proper lifting techniques.