Workplace Solutions Facility safety Housekeeping

Plants and warehouses: Common safety issues

What are some common plant safety practices to consider when designing or redesigning a production area?

Workplace Solutions

Responding is Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A. Inc.

The safe movement of materials in a facility should be a significant consideration when designing or redesigning a production area. As you look to improve your safety practices, keep in mind that:

  • First and foremost, operator training for all material-handling operators, along with well-communicated rules on workplace safety and pedestrian/equipment interaction, will help ensure a safe working environment.
  • Sometimes production areas make the mistake of using the same aisles and passageways for pedestrian and material flow. This creates opportunities for incidents and slows down both material handlers and pedestrians as they cautiously work around each other.
  • As much as possible, people and material-handling equipment should be separated by guards or barriers. Physical barriers ensure pedestrians and material-handling equipment do not come in contact with each other.
  • Warning lights and crossing drop arms can be used at intersections to reduce injury potential at crossing points.

Just as important as forklift safety is warehouse safety. Your warehouse can be a dangerous place if it is in violation of OSHA safety regulations. Some of the things you should look for in your warehouse:

  • All outlets are working.
  • All lights are working for high visibility.
  • Your warehouse is free of slip or trip hazards.
  • Fire extinguishers are in working condition.
  • Eyewash stations are present.
  • Alarm systems are in working condition.
  • All worksites are clean and orderly.
  • Toilets and washing facilities are clean and sanitary.
  • Exits are clearly marked and free of obstructions.

Also, your employees should be trained on various emergency situations, including:

  • Fire
  • Dangerous weather
  • Lockdown situations
  • Medical emergencies
  • Incidents

The list above contains only a few of the things you should look for in your warehouse when conducting a safety audit – a full warehouse safety audit can include more than 100 items to check for. You may be able to find warehouse safety checklists online, but it is imperative that the checklist comply with your safety regulations. Professional third-party assistance helps spot potential issues that otherwise might be overlooked.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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