That accidents happen is a truism. Another axiom states that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the warehousing industry, the fatal injury rate exceeds the national average of all other industries combined.
Identifying and addressing areas of concern regarding OSHA standards and potential violations is a solution to reducing warehouse injuries and fatalities. Some accidents are unavoidable. But more often than not, the cause of warehouse accidents is the violation of safety rules and procedures. For that reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducts nearly 100,000 facility inspections each year. Fines for violations are intended to create warehouse improvements. The goal is ensuring safety for all warehouse workers.
No enterprise embraces inspections, and most live in dread of potential fines from OSHA violations. These fines can be costly, in terms of stress as well as revenue. OHSA reports that its citations can penalize violators heftily. For less serious violations, charges of up to $7,000 may be incurred. Repeat and willful offenders can be charged $70,000 or more per infraction. Organizations, large and small, experience warehouse safety issues. Below are listed some of OSHA’s top safety violations, and advice on how to avoid them.
Forklift citations are costly. But more than that, they can be dangerous or even deadly. And these infractions are always among the top OSHA violations. The most often cited forklift transgressions involve a lack of operator training. Having the skill to drive a car does not mean that a worker can safely operate a forklift. Specialized training is required. When forklift operators are inadequately trained, accidents are sure to follow.
Once a forklift operator is trained, he should be reevaluated every three years. Also, following ‘the rules of the road’ will cut down on forklift accidents. Driving too fast is an accident waiting to happen, and a forklift that is damaged should never be driven. Avoid driving with a too heavy or elevated load. Unbalanced or elevated loads may spill, causing harm to workers in the area. Take note of inclement weather. Secure trailers that are being loaded or unloaded. Remember, too, that loading docks can be congested and dangerous places. Be cautious, alert and aware.
Another vital part of workplace safety is a pre-shift equipment inspection. Make sure that the equipment your workers regularly use is updated and suitable for use. This will help eliminate preventable accidents. And a systemized pre-shift inspection form that guides operators through the checklist will simplify the routine for your workers. Careful attention to these safety measures can lower your fiscal liability, and cost less in terms of the human toll.
Fire safety rules and the availability of fire extinguishers are critical to compliance with OSHA workplace regulations. And an emergency action plan should be in force to address foreseeable workplace emergencies. There should be contingencies for addressing such far-flung emergencies as fire, floods, blizzards, and toxic chemical releases. Exit routes should be clearly marked. OSHA also requires that employers provide respiratory devices to prevent inhaling dangerous chemicals or infectious particles. Choosing the right respirator requires an evaluation of any workplace processes, environments, and operations that could cause a respiratory risk.
Electricity has long been acknowledged as a significant warehouse hazard. Electrical shocks and burns, fires, explosions, and electrocution can result from unsafe work practices, environment, or equipment. Employees can be seriously or fatally injured if factors that may cause electrical threats are not controlled or eliminated. Proper electrical wiring methods, system design, and installation are vital to safety in the workplace. Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI, are necessary for all receptacle outlets. And charging areas should have working fire extinguishers and suitable ventilation.
The health and safety officer who haunts your workplace quite often brings a sigh of irritation, but he has an important job. His presence ensures that your workplace is safe and that the pertinent laws that protect you and your workers are being adhered to. But as an employer, the welfare of your employees should be front and center in your mind as well. Operating a warehouse is a costly enterprise, and OSHA citations can add to the cost. But these charges, which can be excessive and sometimes tragic, are often preventable. There are lots of risks and hazards that can crop up in the warehouse environment, which is why these regulations do matter. For more information on how to make your workplace safe, contact Merchandise Warehouse, the OSHA experts today.