A Guide to Effective Warehouse Safety Training that Engages Employees
There’s a reason that warehouse safety should be the most pressing concern for warehouse managers and their employees.
Warehouses and distribution centers see constant activity — usually involving heavy lifting, moving forklifts, and loud noises. When there are lax safety standards in these working environments, the impact on the business can be devastating.
Indeed, it’s worrying that the number of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities between 2016 and 2019 averaged 22 per 100 full-time workers in the warehousing and storage sector.
“The warehousing and storage sector saw more than 3,000 cases of injuries due to falls, slips, or trips in 2017.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Don’t overlook accident and risk management in your warehouse until it’s too late. When you have unsafe working conditions, you drive up labor costs. It also becomes harder to retain your current employees.
The good news is that your warehouse employees don’t have to be part of the previous statistic. Here’s how you can treat warehouse safety as a priority and provide your employees with effective safety training that not only engages, but also minimizes the risks employees face.
Table of Contents
Embrace a Safety Culture for Your Warehouse Workers
A warehouse safety program is not just about having occupational safety slogans such as “no incidents” or training courses that happen once in a blue moon.
Safety Programs make more of an impact and affect meaningful change.
One way to cultivate a worker safety culture in your warehouse is to ensure safety equipment is always being used.
For example, by using safety equipment such as hydraulic lifts or forklifts to raise bulky products, you can prevent major back injuries. However, even then, you must take care to adhere to OSHA guidelines. These prevent injuries and deaths of workers who operate near forklifts.
Other innovative practices such as implementing fall protection for flatbed trailers can be a great way to eliminate safety hazards and ensure warehouse employees don’t get injuries.
You may wonder, is it just the use of safety equipment and innovative practices that will help you establish a safety culture that thrives?
Not quite. You actually need to take your workers’ occupational safety seriously by conducting regular safety inspections and audits. Doing so allows you to examine the warehouse operation policies you have in place, as well as its effectiveness, procedures, and practices.
Audits of your warehouse environment will allow you to identify areas where there are worker safety risks. They’ll also help you create new policies, provide training, and allow for continued inspections that ensure the new practices are being adhered to.
Getting warehouse workers involved is essential for the warehouse safety program and culture to work. This is best done by educating and empowering all employees to bring any unsafe practices they observe to the attention of management.
Communicate Regularly to Keep the Safety Culture Going
You might be tempted to think that your loading docks are all clear now that you’ve carried out a safety inspection and audit.
What you’ve done, however, is lay a foundation. It’s regular communication and good relationships at all organizational levels that support a great safety culture.
Without regular communication and open conversations that show your warehouse’s commitment to safety and training, you won’t know:
- What’s working and what’s not
- Mistakes that have been made
- What needs to change
Some of the methods that professionals in the warehouse industry use to drive home proper training and safety policies are shown in the table below:
|Company newsletter||Short articles|
|Company website||FAQs, articles, and videos|
|Targeted memos to the entire workforce|
|Signs and stickers||Signage that organizes, marks, and warns about hazardous substances or zones|
To further engage your employees in warehouse safety training, you can have them point out potential risks or unsafe behavior in the workplace. They may also suggest ideas for safety improvements
After reviewing your workers’ ideas, give out prizes every two to four weeks for the best suggestions. Doing so both creates incentives and will help you boost your knowledge of the common hazards your employees encounter in your warehouse.
You may then be able to adjust your training requirements to provide extra training that helps employees avoid warehouse injuries.
By sending messages that motivate and educate your workers on safety matters, you demonstrate that you stand behind your safety culture. It’s not just about passing OSHA compliance requirements but also showing you truly care for the welfare of your employees.
Commit to Ongoing Improvement
The likelihood that you’ll relax and become complacent, especially when you’ve had a long accident-free stretch, is very high.
You need to pay attention and remain vigilant if you’re to ensure your warehouse remains free of accidents and hazards.
This means that the responsibility of implementing continued training and ongoing audits and inspections needs to be taken seriously.
Additionally, it’s crucial to find new ways to shake up the routine so that your workers don’t start getting burned out from training that’s delivered in the same way. A few ways you may train differently include:
- Asking workers to reveal what they like/dislike about current training
- Addressing your workers’ concerns about their current training
- Getting a free Risk Assessment Consultation
- Holding unexpected training sessions
- Bringing in surprise guest speakers
A commitment to ongoing improvement means inviting your managers to periodic meetings. Here, they can share and educate themselves about changes to OSHA or other regulations; including safer procedures for new mechanical handling equipment.
These managers can then pass on this information to the employees they supervise.
You also want to ensure that you continually revisit guidelines using new approaches.
You could cover the kind of clothing you expect your workers to wear, the proper way manual lifting is to be done, and the correct way personal protective equipment — such as hard hats and eyewear — is to be used (especially when dealing with hazardous substances).
By periodically identifying and recognizing workers who adhere to the warehouse safety plan you have in place, you not only reinforce their training but also show others how training ideas can be used in real-life applications.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Best Manage Risk in My Warehouse?
The best way to manage risk in your warehouse is to prevent accidents before they happen.
You can do this by reducing vulnerability to hazards in your loading dock, powered industrial trucks, or warehouse.
Great risk management strategies:
- Begin with ongoing safety audits and inspections
- Identify potential warning signs and trouble spots
- Identify and implement corrective actions
- Make it easy to report near-miss incidents so corrective action can be taken
What Is OSHA’s Position on Fall Protection?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to set up their workplaces to prevent their employees from falling off elevated work stations, overhead platforms, or into holes in the walls and floor.
Reducing falls is important because falls count among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths.
How Can I Make Safety Training More Effective?
Don’t assume that just because you took time to give your workers some required safety information your training was effective. Instead:
- Make training relevant by covering all OSHA-required regulations, in addition to facility or job-specific safety practices.
- Package the safety laws and regulations you are equipping your workers with in a straightforward and easy-to-understand way that doesn’t confuse them. Checklists can help.
- Use different tools to present the safety training information in creative ways.
- Ensure that you train all employees, whether they’re full-time or part-time, managers or janitors. This shows that no one is exempt from playing their part in workplace safety.
- Establish a culture of workplace safety by ensuring training is an ongoing process.
If you’d like to learn what your fall risk profile is or how you measure up to your competition, take our free and confidential Risk Assessment Quiz that gives you personalized recommendations on how to reduce your flatbed falls liability.
Remember, it’s not enough to put in place measures that decrease the risk of your warehouse employees suffering workplace-related injuries. You must also learn how to best engage your workers when providing training so that it’s the most effective.
Featured Image: Freepik