12 Warehouse Safety Tips Every Manager Should Know (And Share)

Posted 29.06.21 by:

warehouse safety tips are shared

Everyone could use some Warehouse Safety Tips from time to time. Operating a warehouse with multiple staff and equipment like forklifts whipping around is cause for concern for any sober-eyed manager. After all, management is legally liable to ensure staff is well protected from the many dangers of warehousing operations.

To help your workplace stay safe, we’ve compiled this list of the top twelve safety tips for warehouse workplaces. Our warehouse safety tips are backed by data, and the numbers tell the tale – that everyone benefits from a safer work environment.

According to the National Safety Council, transportation and warehousing could be the most dangerous of all industries, depending on how you rank the most dangerous. The industry experienced the highest injury and illness rate per 10,000 workers. The rate was determined by days missed from work due to injury.

Let’s dive right into the top X warehouse safety tips so you can start taking actionable measures to improve not only safety in your warehouse but also your liability exposure. Let’s get started.

The 12 Top Warehouse Safety Tips For Management

Although the transportation and warehousing industry faces many challenges, with some smart pre-planning, safety awareness, and risk exposure management, you can make small changes for big results.

Rapid and actionable measures to improve work environments are essential to easing the transition into a modern and safe work ecosystem. The safety tip for warehouse workplaces we’ve compiled for you are divided into a regional approach to warehouse management, with headings for easy organization of where the key focus on improvement lies.

  • Facility Layout And Traffic
  • Safety Equipment And PPE
  • Equipment And Vehicle Awareness
  • Housekeeping
  • Incident Reporting And Documentation

Facility Layout And Traffic

Warehouse Safety Tips are vital in warehouses with forklifts

The facility layout and traffic division focus on the warehouse floor layout and traffic paths. Here are our top tips to help you navigate your facility layout and traffic flow:

  1. Generate a layout plan. 

Using your warehouse flooring layout map (if you don’t have one yet, now is a great time to make one), you need to look at where the facility’s pedestrian and vehicular traffic locations reside.

One of the best warehouse safety tips here is enforced when you create a path and plan that leads the traffic efficiently and safely to their desired destinations.

The reason for creating this plan, if not apparent, is to understand how traffic flows within your facility. You’ll understand how best to direct the traffic flow when you understand the needs.

Refresher Training Tip: Bookmark this page with all our safety tips for warehouse work environments so you can use it to train and refresh your team members.

Remember that you need to separate the different types of traffic as much as possible. Limiting pedestrian crossings of vehicular traffic lanes minimizes the exposure of pedestrians to potential vehicular accidents.
Many facilities post traffic lanes exclusive for forklift use and similarly create paths exclusive to pedestrian foot traffic. Creating and imposing these paths and lanes upon the facility layout maximizes your chances of reducing accidents within your workplace.

  1. Install physical barriers.

Much like you would put a handrail on a staircase, adding a guard rail between a pedestrian path and a forklift laneway is not just a smart idea; it’s a great way to prevent accidents between pedestrians and tow motor traffic.

  1. Install visual barriers.

Unlike physical barriers, visual barriers, warning signs, and symbols allow for another prevention element. For example, a warehouse might use motion sensors and warning beacons on the end of racking laneways.

When a forklift enters the traffic controlling laneway, it triggers the sensor and sets off a warning light at the end of the lane. This way, a pedestrian or another forklift operator will know that a forklift is operating live within the laneway and exercise extra caution if the open end of the lane between racking requires crossing.
Another common and less technical visual barrier utilizes reflective, brightly colored paints to paint lines on the warehouse floor to show designated paths or laneways.

Safety Equipment And PPE

always wear PPE

The expense to set up and maintain proper, even over-prepared PPE stations is minimal compared to paying for accident reparations. Here are a few ideas to help you get your warehouse in the green.

  1. Determine your need and add one (extra).

The add one rule is straightforward: Do what is needed, and then add one. So, if your warehouse requires three eyewash stations, install four. It may seem like a lost expense, but when you consider a company doing its due diligence, you limit your exposure by a lot by doing that little bit extra. 

Most companies do the bare minimum of what is legally required. The companies that go that little bit extra care not only win awards for best-managed firms but also are places where people want to work.

When people want to work somewhere, you get a better pool of candidates for your team. It’s a win-win that costs minimal and encourages safety and a safe working environment.

  1. Ensure PPE is always readily available.

We mentioned doing what is needed and a little extra, but what about ensuring staff has the available supplies? It’s not enough to merely purchase PPE and then lock it up.

At the same time, you don’t want your staff grabbing a new pair of safety glasses because their last pair got a little dirty. When you let your staff have free reign, they will often require excessive management. 

To counter this, we suggest utilizing a sign-out system for PPE for staff. Staff who sign their name to a piece of equipment will naturally take ownership of it and therefore take better care of it. It also allows you to show them documentation should they waste the PPE out of negligence.

Pro Warehouse Safety Tip: Use the 1st Reporting custom builder to create a PPE sign out form. That way your staff can complete a safety check of the equipment right on their mobile device – alerting you via a notification. Now that’s smart PPE management.

  1. Safety equipment training and retraining

Ensuring that staff knows how to use the fire alarm and extinguishers or merely understands where the fire exits reside requires training. Many companies tend to perform initial training and get lazy regarding retraining or refresher courses, as we call them.

Creating an annual or semi-annual retraining certification date for various facility emergency procedures and equipment ensures that your staff is up to date with the latest company policies on safety and ensures they are prepared in an emergency.

These retraining sessions allow you to limit your managerial exposure by actively guiding the safety retraining process.

Equipment And Vehicle Awareness

forklift operation needs to be safe

We spoke about retraining; it is no joke regarding vehicles and the safe practices involved. Here are a few equipment and vehicle warehouse safety tips you should implement to improve facility safety.

  1. Train all staff on vehicle awareness.
The best safety tips for warehouse workplaces include having strict lanes for pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as shown in this file photo. Learn more at 1stReporting.com.
Safety warehouse tip: Ensuring staff utilize designated pathways and maximize their efforts to stay aware of vehicular traffic at all times is critical.

Many companies train warehouse staff about forklift awareness and neglect to train office staff the same. Then an office staff member gets in an accident by wandering into the path of a forklift. These sorts of accidents happen all the time.

Although you might have an excellent team member injury report or incident reporting system in place, the best thing to do is to avoid these sorts of incidents and accidents altogether.

Remember, it’s always better to run staff through a 30-minute vehicle awareness training than to complete the procedure for injury reporting. That’s why you need to take these warehousing safety tips to heart.

  1. Mandate mandatory vehicle inspections.

When you make it company policy and enforce a pre-trip vehicle or equipment inspection rule, your staff will have zero choices but follow procedures. One of the best warehouse safety tips is implementing a daily vehicle inspection plan to eliminate accidents caused by vehicle defects (like leaking oils).

This warehouse safety tip helps grow a sense of accountability and awareness within the vehicle operator.

  1. Maintain strict load stacking and storage rules.

One of the most serious warehouse safety tips we can think of is maintaining strict load-stacking rules. Let me explain using an all-too-common scenario.

A warehouse manager needs his team to meet a quota for shipments. Times and the budget are tight, so the warehouse always has a rushed atmosphere. Forklift drivers have supervisors constantly subjecting them to questions about why this container took so long to load.

Forklift operators feel rushed and thus don’t heed anyone’s warehouse safety tips or suggestions. Furthermore, they stray from the boundaries of safety by skipping important daily forklift machine inspections; in fact, they might even skip the use of the seat belt.

Equipment operators are stretched thin and rush around like busy bees. So, when it comes time to load or unload a container, the equipment operators double stack pallets and drive at frightening speeds so they can attempt to finish on schedule.

An overstacked load, improperly balanced, and now at speed? You can well imagine the outcome. I can think of half a dozen safety tips for warehouse workplaces to help this situation.


housekeeping is important to maintenance inspections
  1. Enforce strong housekeeping practices.

Maintaining rules is something that is in the best interest of everyone. Some think it may be petty to scold a staff member who carelessly discards something to the floor, but every discarded piece of trash is an accident waiting to happen.

Practicing savvy housekeeping by maintaining a clean and orderly facility is vital to reducing exposure to slip and fall accidents. Of course, following our warehousing safety tips will also help.

Wait until you read the statistics about those accidents later in this article. You’ll be running out to hire a cleaning crew for your warehouse like it was going out of style.

Slips and walkways are common warehouse problems often attributed to inadequate housekeeping procedures. In these situations, our safety tip for warehouse managers is implementing a daily or weekly facility inspection into your processes.

  1. Keep emergency exits and corridors clear (and clearly marked).
A fire exit sign is shown attached to overhead racking systems. The best warehouse safety tip is to ensure your fire exits are clearly signed and fully accessible. Learn more at 1stReporting.com.
Green emergency exit sign or fire exit sign showing the path of escape in case of emergency.

I am certain that you would be surprised by the amount of warehouses that block their own fire exits. Overcrowded spaces attempting to utilize every inch are often at fault.

Ensure your team learns one of the most important warehouse safety tips there is – to ensure all fire exits are clearly signed, easily opened for espace, and never blocked by pallets or any other obstructions.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can use these warehouse safety tips to train your team on some of the best practices for warehousing safety.

Incident Reporting And Documentation

incident management involves all team members
  1. Maintain a robust incident reporting culture.

The staff has to understand it’s okay to be human, that accidents happen, and that we can all work together as a team. When staff fears reporting things like near misses or dangerous situations, they tend not to report potentially critical incidents that you, as a manager, need to be aware of.

Maintaining a culture where the staff wants to report incidents creates a bit of management, but with the automated processes of a reporting system like the 1ST Reporting App, managers like you find it easy to manage and navigate.

Furthermore, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to set up – you can even share training documents and warehouse safety tips right inside the platform.

This mobile access enables you to share your warehouse safety tips for these environments, training, and other reference materials means you never have to worry about finding training documents come refresher time.

The best reporting systems document incidents honestly, without bias or judgment, and report every incident without exclusion. Staff will only maintain this standard when they have nothing to fear from reporting incidents, even if they were due to the staff’s non-compliance with safety policies.

We’ve looked at twelve great ways to improve safety within your warehouse environment. Now, let’s take a deeper look at why. The numbers don’t lie, so let’s pay attention to what the statistics tell us about warehouse safety and what you, as a responsible manager, ought to know.

Preparing With First Aid and Other Training

You can follow every one of the warehousing safety tips we’ve provided here today. However, no amount of warehouse safety tips can help if your team members lack the appropriate training.

… every workplace include one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid, including CPR.

OSHA – Standard Interpretations

It is noteworthy to consider that OSHA does not require one or more first-aid trained personnel, it’s merely a recommendation. However, we feel that it should be a requirement; after all, it could literally save someone’s life.

Warehouse Safety Tips By The Numbers – Top Warehouse Injury and Accident Statistics Managers Need To Know

Find the top warehouse safety tips and statistics at 1stReporting.com.
Tracking data and reports with a powerful app like 1st Reporting makes managing safety in warehousing easier.

At 1ST Reporting, as an ISO/IEC 27001 certified company, we take data and security seriously. A part of understanding how business might improve is through statistical data analysis. Regarding warehousing, this data can shed light on some weaknesses within the industry to improve.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, warehousing jobs within the United States suffered 24 fatalities in 2019. The year also brought about a 4.8% injury and illness rate among full-time workers. That’s why actionable change is essential for most warehouse environments.

Here are some interesting facts from the National Safety Council regarding warehousing in the US in 2019:

  • Transportation and warehousing had the third-highest death rate of any industry, with 13.9 deaths per 100,000 workers.
  • The same transportation and warehousing industry came in second for the number of deaths per industry, with a whopping 913 deaths in 2019.
  • If we’re looking at ranking industries by nonfatal injury and illness, warehousing is the highest, with 201.6 nonfatal injuries per 10,000 workers.
  • Now to look at those same nonfatal injuries, if we’re talking pure injury numbers, warehousing comes in fifth for 2019 with 103,560 total reported nonfatal injuries.
  • The top three injuries were:
    • Overexertion and bodily reaction
    • Falls, slips, and trips.
    • Contact with equipment or an object
  • 72.4% of injuries occurred in men, 27.6 in women
  • The top 5 sources of injuries in transportation and warehousing were:
    • Vehicles
    • Containers
    • Person, injured, or ill worker
    • Worker motion or position
    • Floors, walkways, ground surfaces
  • The number one occupation within the transportation and warehousing industry for injuries in the workplace is the transportation and material moving roles.
  • The number one nature of injury in warehousing and transportation is sprains, strains, and tears.

Here’s What The Data Tells Us – A Summary

Most injuries are preventable accidents involving slips, strains, overexertion, and equipment/vehicles. The most severe incidents are fatal, and the warehousing industry has no shortage of severe to fatal accidents, which means insufficient preventive measures are generally in place.

The smartest warehouse safety tips we can provide are to share how a mobile inspection and reporting application, like 1st Reporting, can change your business or organization for the better. After all, isn’t a safer workplace everyone’s goal?

A robust reporting protocol will help your business improve processes and procedures by analyzing previous and potential accidents. Using an ISO-registered partner as the creators of 1ST Reporting – a mobile incident reporting and auditing cloud-based solution for business is wise in an age of data theft and ransomware attacks.

Knowing your incident reports, site audits, vehicle inspections, or other reports and checklists used within the application for your company are both secure and safe for retrieval.

Start reporting today

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Join the globally-recognized brands that trust 1st Reporting to safeguard their organizations!