Safety tips for warehouse workers should be at the forefront of how we move and operate in the workspace all day, every day. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Consider this sobering fact: according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “The fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries.” Additionally, warehouse workers sustain thousands of non-fatal injuries every year.
There is a flip side to all this, however: injuries, and by extension fatalities, are largely preventable.
It’s a matter of creating a daily workplace environment in which following safety tips is an ingrained habit. Here are some key ways to make both specific as well as general warehouse safety tips stick at all times.
Make Safety the Priority
From the moment an employee is hired, safety topics for work need to be emphasized. This begins with leadership upholding safety as the number one priority. For information about how to get on the right track with new employees, read our earlier blog post about how to prioritize safety topics during orientations.
Immediately establishing a strong and clear safety protocol is a great start, but following that up with day-to-day focus on the topic is also critical. Without safety, morale goes down: injuries and unsafe atmospheres not only have a depressing psychological effect on the afflicted party, but also on others in the environment, as well as family and friends.
In addition, injuries have a hugely detrimental effect on productivity, as well as the economic bottom line. And there are legal issues to consider, too.
Strong safety standards and adherence have the power to turn all this negativity around. When workers know that their well-being is of utmost concern, they feel supported. Supported employees are more productive, more engaged, and more satisfied in the workplace.
With all these upsides, making safety stick from the very start and forever after is a worthy goal.
Empower and Encourage the Entire Workforce
While safety standards and priorities start with management, carrying them out is largely in the hands of those on the warehouse floor. No one can predict beforehand every possible hazard that might arise, and you never know where the next great safety idea might come from.
It takes a thoughtful and safety-attentive workforce to identify unforeseen dangers and decide on-the-spot solutions to make sure those dangers don’t become injuries, or worse. This requires creating a safety culture.
One key aspect of developing such a culture is engaging the psychology behind promoting safety habits.
Here are a few other suggestions on how to develop safety culture in the warehouse:
- Provide a suggestion box where employees can submit ideas for creating a safer environment
- Let workers know they are encouraged to address unforeseen safety issues; ask that they share these safety stories and solutions at meetings
- Reward safe behaviors publicly with a gift, certificate, or other acknowledgment
- Hold weekly, if not daily, safety reviews or briefings and request feedback
- Discuss “safety gone right” in meetings, highlighting how and when staff is doing a great job in this regard
- Celebrate “zero injury” months with a company-paid lunch
These are just a few ways to get the entire team engaged in company safety awareness and compliance.
Establish Strong Policies around Lapses of Safety in the Warehouse
Unfortunately, it’s unrealistic to think that nothing will ever go wrong. So it's important to require that accidents and injuries are thoroughly acknowledged. This is an exceptional learning opportunity. In the words of Bills Gates, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
To show just how important it is to address mishaps seriously, look to the example of aluminum leader Alcoa. In the late 1980s, then new CEO Paul O’Neill made safety number one and required injuries to be fully investigated in short order, so that safety could be continually improved.
His leadership in this realm exemplifies how a rock solid workplace safety culture has the power to change everything. In short, by focusing on eliminating every safety hiccup company-wide, he turned around a company on the downswing, both in terms of finances as well as employee satisfaction. An injury-free environment is that foundational to the well-being of a corporation. Learn more about O’Neill’s then highly unconventional approach in this interview:
It’s Clear: Safety Must Come First
It’s a challenge in the day-to-day grind, with various crises of many flavors arising, to keep priorities focused on issue number one: safety. So it’s important, from the head of leadership all the way to every worker on the floor, to continually return to what matters most: human health and well-being.
Making that stick at every level will ensure that your greatest assets are taken care of and able to do their best work. With safety tips for warehouse workers firmly instilled, success flows naturally.