Like same-day deliveries? You’ll have to thank the thousands of warehouse workers dedicated to getting them delivered each and every day. Warehouses are fast-paced environments, with the movement of large quantities of loads, vehicles and workers. Working in such conditions, potential risks and hazards are more frequent than your average workplace. And as our appetite as consumers grows, so do the risks in places from which we source our goods. Unfortunately, injuries and even fatalities do occur, and warehousing being one of the worst affected sectors, according to official government findings.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines are enacted in different work environments, with the end goal of maximising workers’ safety and minimizing potential hazards or injuries. Both employees and employers are legally bound to follow them. Safety equipment differs from workplace to workplace, but its role in worker safety is undeniable. It ensures normal everyday proceedings in warehouses, regulating the movement of workers, pedestrians, and material handling equipment.
The most common accidents and mishaps in warehouses are slips, trips and falls arising from slippery floors dues to spills, uneven surfaces or inappropriate footwear. Warehouse floors should be clean, void of any misplaced objects or items, and careful planning is undertaken in floor layouts. All warehouse staff must be adequately trained in following safety procedures and wear the appropriate PPE gear at all times.
General physical injuries may also result in day-to-tasks, including lifting heavy objects or loads, pushing and pulling, or strains in reaching. With large heights in warehouses, falls are also typical. Muscular and skeletal damage is common in such environments, and teaching proper handling of lifting equipment will reduce potential injuries and increase overall safety, speed and efficiency.
More serious are injuries resulting from accidents involving moving vehicles, especially forklifts and other vehicles, either with workers or pedestrians on site. Vehicle operators must be properly trained and are permitted to work only with a licence. Also restricting the movement of workers in zones and installing proper protective barriers around racks or designated traffic zones will ensure that no such cases do occur.
Warehouse Safety Equipment
Pallet Racking Protectors
Providing for the safest movement of both vehicles and workers in warehouses is done with the right safety gear in the right places. Warehouses have rows of pallet racking, often stacked high with valuable goods. No matter how good forklift drivers are, accidents are bound to happen. Hitting any part of racking frames even at slow speeds can cause items or whole racks to fall, with serious consequences to anyone nearby. Not to mention the potential costs in material damage and delays due to repairs. Shielding individual columns and rows from contact with vehicles is done with pallet racking protectors. There are safety solutions to protecting different racking systems and types, and individual parts of the racking. Single bay pallet racking protectors measure the whole width of the rack frame of 838mm, and come in at a total length of 1080mm, including rack end protectors. With 400mm of total height, the racking protector is positioned close to the ground and does not allow for accidental contact with forklift tines.
End protectors are also available for double racking bays with a width of two sections of 838mm each separated by a 430mm space. The pallet racking protectors here are single pieces of sturdy metals complying with the Australian AS4084 safety standard of 2012. This protector comes in at a total length of 2350mm and with the same height of 400mm as in single bay pallet racking protectors. To secure individual corners and aisle ends, pallet racking column guards in the same material as protectors are installed. They are the same height, but extend at both ends of the column to provide for the highest protection.
Pallet racking protectors and columns are affixed to the pallet racking and the ground by way of bolts. Installation can be carried out by trained in-house staff, or companies providing the products.
Bollards and Barriers
Bollards and protective barriers are used to streamline traffic movement. Bollards come in different shapes and designs, depending on which part of the warehouse requires shielding from unwanted or accidental vehicle movements. U-shaped bollards come in at a shorter 230mm or a taller 1068mm height and a length of 1.22 metres. Shorter bollards are installed around piping, wiring or electrical equipment, while taller bollards are placed in front of rack columns to prevent accidental hits. Single-piece straight bollards, measuring 915mm can be placed as individual units or in combination anywhere on the warehouse grounds. A nice touch is bollards with integrated hand sanitizing units. Like pallet racking protectors, rigid metals are used in their construction. They are affixed to the ground with thick bolts securing an oversized base plate.
Barriers of various kinds are also used to limit access to certain areas, thereby raising safety. Expanding barriers can be optioned in different lengths and can be either fixed or portable. The latter have lockable castor wheels making them a convenient solution in placement, and quick removal when not needed. Pedestrian barriers include handrail systems, with modular designs to fit any area of the warehouse. Wall-mounted barriers with retractable tape serve a similar purpose. To shield large areas, and pieces of equipment there is also a whole array of fences and gates in different designs and sizes, depending on your needs.
These are just some of the pieces of safety equipment that raise worker awareness and provide for a safer working environment. Shop for pallet racking protectors, pallet column guards, bollards and barriers in stores stocking material handling equipment.