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Since it was created by Congress in 1970, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has investigated thousands of workplace accidents. The agency has helped reduce workplace deaths by 62% per year and employee injuries by 42%.
Over the years, OSHA has learned a little about which locations and equipment are the most common places for accidents to occur in warehouses and manufacturing facilities:
1. Forklifts — These are very heavy pieces of equipment that are constantly on the go and often are carrying heavy loads which can impair the view of the operator. They key to safe operation of forklifts is thorough operator training and being constantly vigilant of potential dangers.
2. Hazed Communication — Warehouses tend to be noisy, cavernous spaces where sounds don’t carry very well. Loud horns, flashing lights and other over-amplified warnings are the best ways let everybody know about potential threats to health and property.
3. Electrical, Wiring Methods — Making sure your electrical wiring is in optimal condition is one of the best ways to avoid fires, explosions and other accidents. Unfortunately, in busy warehouse situations, outlets, junction boxes and other electrical methods can easily become damaged.
4. Electrical, System Design — Keeping electrical equipment out of the line of traffic from forklifts and other vehicle is the best way to prevent it from being damaged.
5. Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes — When forklifts, power jacks and other heavy machinery are being used, it’s easy to punch holes in walls, damage floors and cause other potentially dangerous damage. Keeping your facility in optimal condition and repairing damage immediately is one of the best ways to maintain safety.
6. Exits — In the event of a fire, explosion or accident, evacuation of your facility needs to take place immediately and efficiently. So exits need to be clearly marked and free of obstacles, exit signs need to be constantly illuminated and in working condition, and employees need to be trained and drilled on the location of the nearest exits so they are ready should trouble occur.
7. Mechanical Power Transmission – Moving parts such as conveyors are hazardous. Train your workers to keep a safe distance.
8. Respiratory Protection — Any time materials are being used that could potentially cause breathing problems, personal safety protection equipment such as masks or respirators must be used.
9. Lockout/Tagout — Equipment that is damaged or inoperable needs to be marked and locked so that it can’t be accidentally used. Locks and lockout tags can let everybody know when equipment should be left alone.
10.Portable Fire Extinguishers — In many cases, local ordinances require that fire extinguishers be located throughout your facility. They need to be charged regularly and ready for use if needed. Inspecting and maintaining your portable fire extinguishers ensures they will be ready when you need them.
Providing operational equipment and prevention is only half the battle. All your safety procedures and equipment depend on how well you train your employees to follow and use them. In order to properly handle any potential accident, make sure your employees know how to respond to accidents and follow proper procedures, report accidents immediately to their supervisors, locate the nearest fire extinguisher, and know where your Materials Safety Data Sheets are located.
The best course of prevention is making safety a part of your facility’s culture.