You work in one of the highest risk industries for workplace injuries and fatalities.
It’s confronting to think that many of the industries that operate from a workshop environment face the greatest number of fatalities (47%) across the workforce and the largest total number of workplace injuries and illnesses (58%). According to Safe Work Australia, the business operations cost for a worker who suffers any type of injury or disease from work is an average of $5,800. That’s an unexpected (and avoidable) cost coming out of your business’ profit, and doesn’t factor in the costs to others in your working environment, the worker and surrounding community.
While many businesses have safety procedures in place designed to guard against hazards in the workplace that could put employees at risk, many considerations and key safety equipment items are overlooked due to limited time, budgets or resources. However, poor safety practices to a small-to-medium size business can mean financial disaster. You put yourself at risk of:
- Production losses.
- The cost of wages paid for work that wasn’t completed.
- Worker’s compensation fees.
- Potential damage to your machinery and equipment.
- The costs and resources required to train replacement employees.
- A decline in productivity in the workplace as well as a risk of reduced morale.
- Potential risks to the quality of your product as the workplace recovers, which can impact client relationships.
- High staff turnover.
Don’t forget the guilt associated with a fatality, illness or injury that could have been easily prevented.
While it can be tempting to cut corners to save money, the benefits of proper safety precautions and equipment far outweigh the risks to you as a business owner.\
Here are a few tips on how to stay safe in a warehouse setting
1. Avoiding slips in the workplace.
Every year slips, trips and falls result in thousands of preventable injuries in the workplace. Slips can result in a bruise, cut, fracture, dislocation, musculoskeletal injury or more serious injury.
It’s important to consider the design of your warehouse flooring, stairs, drainage, storage available and proper lighting to help reduce risks of slips. Workplace procedures around footwear and rubbish can also help with prevention.
Anti-slip tape can help protect employees from wet or slippery surfaces in a range of manufacturing facilities. Sometimes called traction tape or non-slip tape, it increases the friction between a worker’s shoe and the ground’s surface to help prevent slipping and is a worthy investment for any warehouse environment.
2. When fire strikes.
Fire in the workplace can cause expensive damage to property equipment and put lives at risk. It can also result in lengthy and expensive downtime during the repairs period. While the incidence of fire in the workplace is generally low, it’s not worth the risk.
To protect against fire in your warehouse, it’s important to stay up-to-date with your responsibilities in terms of fire regulation and legislation. Prioritise the installation of adequate fire equipment for your warehouse space. Basic equipment can include fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire hoses, passive fire solutions such as fire doors or more sophisticated sprinkler technologies. Don’t forget to provide ongoing maintenance and service of your equipment and train staff on its use.
3. Safe handling of heavy equipment, machinery and materials.
Over the past four years alone there have been more than 160,000 injuries in NSW workplaces as a result of warehouse and plant equipment used incorrectly. More than 6,000 workers suffered horrific permanent injuries and 64 died. It’s important to have effective procedures in place to protect staff and yourself as the facility owner, and to provide equipment that both limits risks and ensures employees aren’t straining their bodies to get the work done.
Make sure you have loading (such as pallets and skids), transport (such as fork lifts) and lift equipment available so your team doesn’t risk injury when they move items. Opt for quality machine guards, wheel chocks for vehicles, lockout systems that protect machinery in use or on stand-by, and put best practice processes in place to ensure your team are using equipment properly.
4. Harmful substance and chemical spill management.
In manufacturing plants, warehouses and workshops, spills can occur when liquid substances, such as chemical additives and solvents, are transferred between containers/drums or machinery and moved between vehicles and the warehouse. While all spills pose a risk, industrial-strength chemicals and strong acids and bases must be cleaned up quickly to prevent injury to employees and work disruption.
Be prepared for hazardous spills by having industrial spill kits onsite that team members can be trained to use should a spill occur. Always choose a spill kit that is designed for a warehouse environment and consider specific chemical kits (such as oil and hydrocarbon spill kits) should they be appropriate to your site.
The right equipment and training are essential to keeping your workplace safe. If you’d like more information on warehouse spill kits, fire safety equipment and other products that can help you keep your staff safe and your business thriving, contact us on 1800 811 556.