The safety of employees is the most important responsibility that any warehouse — or company, for that matter — can undertake. Employees have a right to a safe workplace, and the OSHA guidelines help employers to be sure they are providing the right work environment.
Not only does a formal safety awareness program take care of the team, it also saves money in lost time and material expenses, as well as in areas like health benefits and human resources. Here are a few ways to implement a warehouse safety program that will resonate with your employees.
- First, work with your human resources department to develop a plan. What should be the focus? If you have machinery or electrical components that employees will use, set the guidelines accordingly. If you have ladders or lifts, review the safety features and be clear about who can and cannot use the equipment.
- Write it down. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people have a plan “in theory” but it’s not on record anywhere. Putting the goals and rules of the program in black and white makes it real and helps commit it to people’s memories.
- Communicate the plan from the outset. Hold mandatory employee meetings or series of meetings to announce the program. Be sure the plan is included in all new hire packets and personal onboarding sessions. Have employees sign a safety commitment.
- Post safety tips throughout the warehouse – in work spaces, in break rooms, on equipment. Keeping the program top-of-mind for employees is going to make them think twice in any precarious situations.
- Provide incentives for employees to comply 100 percent of the time. A chance at a raffle prize or a small pay bonus is often enough to get people talking about the cause. It can raise awareness and compliance.
- Email blasts and/or paycheck stuffers are great ways to touch employees with the program. Even though it’s in their personal space, it reinforces your safety message.
- With the advent of the COVID virus and others like it, a cleanliness and sanitization process should also be part of the safety program. Hand-washing, distancing and keeping surfaces clean are all ways we can help prevent sickness and lost work time, even from the common cold.
- Check with your liability insurance agent to see if there are any credits for implementing a safety program in your workplace. Often, if you ask, you can become the receiver of a discounted premium.
All of these tips can keep your workers on the job, preventing the domino effect caused by accidents and illness. Employees will be doing the job for which they’ve been hired and your warehouse will run like a well-oiled machine. The team that you envisioned will work together to the highest standards of production, resulting in a more productive line, less sick time pay, fewer health insurance claims and fewer mechanical repairs.