Safety is paramount to your warehouse operations. Protecting valuable employees and inventory starts with a well-maintained fleet of equipment, extensive planning, and properly trained employees.
Think of it this way, no one ever sets out to get sick- just like no one sets out to have an accident in the warehouse. Much like with illness, prevention is the best way to keep your employees and warehouse operating at optimal levels.
When heavy pallet racks and even heavier machinery threaten your core competency of product fulfillment or employee safety, take some time and incorporate these 10 safeguards into your operating procedures.
Look: Warehouse safety hinges largely on visibility. Aside from the obvious structures like sufficient overhead lighting, you might also consider adding flashers to the lifts themselves and mirrors on truck or aisle ends to increase that visibility. Another good accident prevention method we’ve seen is to paint forklifts in bright bold colors to make them easier to spot. However, this trick is two-fold as it also makes it easier to correlate any trucks that inflict damage and who the drivers were at the time it was sustained. Still, part of being ‘visible’ isn’t just about what you can see, but what you can hear so consider adding back up alarms to lifts.
Inspect: Implement a regimented, daily walkthrough of your pallet racks to catalog any new or existing damage. In addition, hire an outside expert to conduct inspections on a regular basis. The same goes for your forklifts themselves.
Repair: Take any report of damage seriously and make the proper measures to get the racks or lifts repaired immediately. It’s the best, if not only way to avoid costly replacement of your entire pallet rack or purchase of a new forklift.
Declutter: Make sure your ‘spring’ cleaning is a yearlong event. Clean, organized aisles are the best way to prevent obstructions that can lead to serious damage. In doing so, you give your lift drivers the best chance to effectively, safely maneuver their trucks in the confined space of the warehouse.
Widen: Investigate the width of your aisles. Even if you feel like widening them could impact your warehouse’s limited storage space, it’s a lot cheaper than replacing costly pallet racks after a collapse. The industry standard width for aisles is between twelve to fourteen feet though you should consult your forklifts manufacture recommended guidelines if you have any questions.
Report: Even with regular inspection, you may not be able to catch every piece of damage to your pallet racks. An effective way to combat this is to give your warehouse staff the option of submitting anonymous accident reports. It will take the fear of retribution out and help you to better keep the pulse of your racks.
Monitor: However, if anonymous accident reports are out of the question, you can always install cameras on the floor to monitor your overall operations. That way if damage is sustained you can review the footage and address it with the responsible individual. Cameras might also prevent accidents by intrinsically encouraging your staff to be more cautious on the floor.
Enclose: It’s common knowledge that fully closed uprights have almost double the resistance power of their partially enclosed counterparts. Though they may cost slightly more, their ability to prevent your racks from sustaining damage is worth the up front cost.
Protect: Cushion row ends against potential impacts with the installation of guardrails or bollards. Pallet protectors at the frames are an additional safeguard that can slow some of the inevitable wear and tear of your rack.
Train: Perhaps the #1 way to prevent accidents and pallet rack damage is to make sure to thoroughly train and re-train your employees. For instance: Do they know the proper way to turn to prevent damage? When and how to report an accident or suspected damage? Are they aware of the speed limits on the floor? These and other key safety measures are easily and simply addressed with regular, mandatory training sessions throughout the year.
In the end, your bottom line depends on how safe and tight your warehouse operations are run. To thwart preventable pallet rack damage, consider adding these safeguards to your current policy.