You know your warehouse employees face a lot of potential hazards, and you want to help them stay safe. Trouble is, warehouse work is a whole different creature than the rest of most companies' concerns. For warehouse safety, tips need to flow constantly to keep the many facets of warehouse work front of mind for your staff. Here's how to manage the intricacies without flooding your employees with information or overwhelming yourself in the process.
What Are Principles in Warehouse Management?
To understand how to convey the seriousness of safety in your warehouse, first you need to know the basic principles to which your employees must adhere. Some are universal, like wearing proper protective equipment and removing jewelry, but others are unique to the warehouse. For example, simple concepts such as stacking inventory can lead to tripping hazards or falling objects that equate to lost work time and, in the case of an accident, hefty insurance bills.
In this sort of facility, a warehouse safety checklist isn't just lip service—it's a daily reminder of the equipment inspections and hazard checks that keep everyone from forklift and lift table operators to loading dock staff safe. Procedures for lockouts and tagouts avoid injuries, while cleaning regimens and lifting techniques have to be second nature to your entire warehouse staff. Break times are extra valuable in such a physically demanding environment, often without climate control.
Easy Tactics for Communicating Warehouse Safety Tips
Once you know the particulars of what you have to cover for your warehouse staff, you need a game plan for getting the right safety messages out. You might have a team to help you, or you might be a safety army of one. Either way, the amount of information these workers need to receive can feel daunting. Here are some simple ways to reach workers without overwhelming yourself.
Enlist Safety Ambassadors in Your Warehouse
Your employees are your strongest allies in safety communication. Invite staff from all levels, from top-level management to brand-new dock worker, to participate in a safety committee of sorts. They take on responsibility for keeping you informed of the issues the whole team faces in regard to safety and help you translate those into safety meeting topics for warehouse workers. They also become your voice on the warehouse floor, offering corrective solutions in the moment as they, say, spot someone lifting incorrectly or getting distracted while using a conveyor.
Sometimes, something as simple as a contest to come up with warehouse safety slogans can show you who your natural safety leaders are. Think about how to engage creative minds to evangelize on your behalf. After all, engagement in safety can change everything at your company.
Watch Your Timing
Unlike office workers and some factory employees, warehouse workers are on the go all the time. Catching them in the middle of their shift to hand out safety materials won't be as effective as meeting them where they are. Signage is helpful, although it can sometimes become part of the scenery if you don't change it often. You may want to consider starting a daily email or social media post sharing warehouse safety tips so your employees think about safety at the same time every day. Link to videos to emphasize specific points, or include broad-based ones like this one to remind your teams about all the safety concerns they face.
Speak Your Employees' Language
As a safety manager, you know the ins and outs of safety jargon. Your warehouse workers probably aren't nearly as versed in it as you are, however. To run a successful program, you need not only safety meeting topics for your warehouse workers but also instructions and follow up that makes sense in their everyday lives. Remember, plain language always is essential for safety information. Recent studies of U.S. literacy rates show nearly half of all Americans read at or below a basic level, with only 13 percent reading at a proficient one. Keep this in mind as you develop your whole safety program.
In the warehouse, safety tips save lives every day. Rise to the challenge of communicating them to your employees in words they understand at the right time so they sink in for everyone. By bringing leaders from all sorts of positions in the warehouse into the safety discussion, the team you build becomes your strong ally in guarding the whole staff.
How can I successfully implement new safety initiatives?
How do I get buy-in from management and workers?
What’s the best way to build trust and rapport?
Should EHS be a C-Suite position?
We explore these questions and more on the Safety Labs by Slice podcast. Check us out using the links below.