10 Tips for Improving Warehouse Safety and Efficiency
Jan 24, 2019 Comments (1)
Warehouses are the backbone of most industries, serving as both storage and shipping for both personal and commercial products.
Safety in these settings is paramount — an injury or death in the workplace could take a warehouse offline for days or weeks during the incident investigation. Here are 10 quick tips that you can employ in any warehouse to improve safety and efficiency.
1. Offer Incentive Pay
Non-monetary incentives can work as well, but they aren't as effective as offering monetary bonuses for consistent safety or improved efficiency. Incentive programs, when properly implemented, can increase productivity and employee retention by up to 30 percent by improving employee morale and job satisfaction. Talk to your employees to find out what kind of incentives they might prefer — incentives are more effective when you discuss them with the employees that will be receiving them beforehand.
2. Provide the Right Safety Equipment
You wouldn't go boating without a life jacket or ride a motorcycle without a helmet, so why should your warehouse employees have to work in an environment where they don't have the right safety equipment? Make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment for your particular industry — PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for any employees that might be handling hazardous chemicals, hard hats if there are drop hazards, etc. Keep all equipment in good repair and replace it as needed.
3. Stop Procrastinating
It's tempting to put a new shipment to the side and say that you'll handle it later, especially if it's a big shipment that you don't need immediately. Put an end to shipment-related procrastination. When a load comes in, unpack it and break down the boxes so they don't create a safety hazard. Not only will this keep your floor running smoother, but you also won't end up searching through boxes for an item you need to fulfill an order.
4. Maintain and Update Your Signage
Safety and efficiency signage can be incredibly useful in maintaining and improving efficiency, as long as the signage is kept up to date and maintained regularly. Keep your expectations posted on each piece of equipment, as well as in areas that are frequently trafficked by employees and contractors. It might seem like their eyes slide off of the signs, but if they're strategically placed, your crew can't help but see and absorb the information contained within.
5. Keep All Paths Clearly Marked
This step can be beneficial for both safety and efficiency. Use high-quality, durable paint to keep all of your paths clearly marked. Use different colors for pedestrian paths, equipment paths and areas that can be traversed by both. Clear paths can prevent accidents between employees and equipment, which can be fatal. By keeping pedestrians and heavy machinery separate, you allow both to work more efficiently than they would if they were always stepping on each other's toes.
6. Review, Review, Review
Just because your safety and efficiency ratings are perfect right now, that doesn't mean that they will continue to maintain that perfection in the future. Take the time to review your standard operating procedures for safety and efficiency regularly to ensure that they are optimal. If things within your hierarchy or employee structure change, chances are you'll need to update your standard operating procedure (SOPs) to ensure that things continue to move smoothly.
7. Constant Training
Training isn't something that should only apply to new hires. Education on safety and efficiency protocols should be ongoing, especially if you make any changes to SOPs or introduce new technologies. Even if your processes remain the same, the industry itself is continually changing, and you'll need to train your crew to keep up with things as they evolve.
8. Reorganize Your Warehouse
How do you arrange your warehouse? By item number or by sale frequency? While the former does make sense in some cases, if some items get requested more than others, rearrange your warehouse so the popular things are closer to your picking station. You don't need to rearrange the entire inventory. Just move the stuff that you are shipping out most often so that it is easily accessible. This change will increase warehouse efficiency without negatively affecting other parts of your business.
9. Establish a Safety Committee
It can be challenging to police warehouse safety issues during all of your operating hours. Instead of stretching yourself too thin and trying to be the safety police on your own, establish a safety committee. Pick employees who have shown exemplary knowledge of safety practices and communicate with them on a regular basis. They don't have to be management. Simply choose employees who are concerned about warehouse safety and give them the ability to communicate with you about it.
10. Create a Safety and Efficiency Culture
Safety and efficiency in a warehouse setting aren't just rules — they should be an entire inter-office culture that is maintained and allowed to thrive. Use these tips and others that you've come across, to create a business culture that remains focused on the safety of your workers and the efficiency of your workplace. Think of this as your foundation on which you can build a safe and effective business that will continue to function well for years to come.
Safety and efficiency should be your priority, regardless of your industry or the size of your crew. Use these tips to protect your investments and your team in the coming year.
Megan Nichols is a technical writer and blogger. She writes about engineering, science and technology topics. Megan is also editor of Schooled By Science, an easy to understand science blog. With Schooled By Science she hopes to encourage others to learn more about STEM subjects.