Prioritizing Warehouse Safety

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  1. Keep the warehouse clean, neat, and organized. Aisles and walkways should be free of spills and debris. Do not allow boxes or merchandise to be left in walkways where people might trip. Mark all pedestrian walkways, vehicle lanes, and inclines with highly visible floor markings.
    • Make sure to keep cables or suspended equipment from hanging over pedestrian walkways or vehicle lanes.
    • Take advantage of wall space to add storage lockers or hooks.
    • Manage cords on the floor with tape, or cover them with cord covers.
  2. Make sure all areas are properly lit. Bright lights will promote alertness and workplace safety by keeping your employees awake and aware of their surroundings. Make sure light bulbs are replaced immediately when they go out and that there are no dark areas in the warehouse.
  3. Train employees on general warehouse safety practices. All warehouse employees should attend training on warehouse safety standards and confirm in writing that they have received adequate training. Many injuries arise from improper material handling, so your safety program should place a heavy focus on the proper ways to pick up, reach for, and carry heavy objects. You should also include a section on loading-dock safety, including limiting the height of stacked pallets and keeping the dock area free of obstructions.
    • You may wish to develop a safety program specifically tailored to your company. Work with human resources to develop training materials.
    • Consider online training, which may allow you to archive training materials (videos and print-outs) so they can be viewed many times.
  4. Make sure employees that use mechanical equipment are properly trained. An employee operating warehouse equipment — forklifts, mechanical loaders, electric stackers, lifters, shrink wrappers, etc. — must be fully trained in their use and certified if necessary.
    • Make sure these employees are trained to identify hazards, respond to them quickly, follow safety protocols, and take special care in the loading-dock area.
    • If certification is required to operate vehicles or equipment (such as a forklift), you must verify that employees have received this training.
  5. Enforce safety regulations. Such rules are designed to avoid employee injuries that could deprive you of skilled labor. Enforce safety regulations by placing reminder signs where appropriate and punishing employees seen regularly disregarding safety rules. Do not make exceptions for anyone violating the rules.
    • Educate your employees on appropriate protective gear such as hard hats, steel-toed boots, safety goggles, and heavy gloves.
    • Make sure forklift or other machinery operators are properly trained to use only designated lanes when moving such equipment around the warehouse.
  6. 6 Do regular safety checks. Make sure everything is up-to-date. Plan regular vehicle, machinery, equipment and loading-dock examinations and maintenance in order to keep them in proper working order.
    • Report, replace or repair any damaged or missing safety features. Lights, reverse sensors, and warning signals should be tested on vehicles.
    • Test repaired equipment to make sure it is safe before returning it to the warehouse floor.
    • Immediately attend to any reported safety hazards.

Managing Warehouse Employees

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1 Communicate clearly with your employees. To run a successful warehouse operation, you’ll need to listen and respond to your workers. Consider implementing an open-door policy for any employees with questions or concerns. You can also allow workers to make anonymous comments or suggestions via a comments box. This will allow you to deal with employee complaints before they become serious problems.

2 Interview qualified candidates. Look for potential employees who conduct themselves professionally and are skilled enough for the position. Once you have several applicants for the position, make a hiring decision based on their applications and interviews. Involve the appropriate supervisor in the decision. He or she may have good insight in picking the right applicant.

3 Train new employees. Once a new employee has been hired, you may need to help them get started. This may involve supervising their training or performing parts of their training yourself. You may want to show them around the warehouse and introduce them to other supervisors with whom they may be working.

  • Make yourself available in case new hires have questions while they are settling in.
  • Retraining may also be required, as processes within the warehouse’s organization may change. Make sure to schedule time for retraining each employee if this is the case.
  • You can also cross-train employees (train them in more than one role) so that if one employee is ill or fired, others can temporarily take their place.

4 Give feedback and performance reviews. Meet with all employees regularly and review their performance. This is an opportunity for growth an encouragement. Talk to the employee about his strengths and reward excellent performance and behavior. Discuss ways in which the employee can improve, address any weaknesses or bad behavior, and make a plan for improvement.[

  • You may also ask supervisors for input regarding employee performance.
  • Make sure you follow up with any corrective actions.

5 Fire employees when necessary. Letting employees go is never easy, but a good manager recognizes when doing so is necessary. The important thing is that the manager fire the employee in a professional manner and do the firing him or herself.

  • Consider firing an employee if they consistently ignore safety procedures, show up late for work regularly, skip work, show up intoxicated to work, fail to complete tasks in a timely manner, or otherwise disrupt warehouse operations on a regular basis.

6 Keep up with employment laws. Workplace and compensation regulations change frequently, so it is important to monitor changes and implement them as soon as possible. Make sure to look out for changes in state or federal laws that could have anything to do with your warehouse or employees. You may be able to follow these changes more closely by subscribing to a relevant trade magazine.

Distribution Warehouse Selection Tips

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Finding a new distribution warehouse for your business can be difficult if you don’t know where to start and what to look for. There are several factors that you need to take into consideration like your target market, the size of your operations, and the cost of running a warehouse in a particular area. After taking all of these into account, only then will you be able to come up with an appropriate plan on how and where to put your new warehouse. Below are five distribution warehouse selection tips that we urge you to follow when you go around looking for a new space or building.

1) Determine the requirements for your new warehouse. The most important thing you need to remember here is the required size of the warehouse. You are going to use it for distribution so you have to make sure that it will be able to accommodate all of your storage needs. You also have to think about the possibility that you will be expanding the warehouse sometime in the future. For example, you might currently need just two floors as distribution space. But what if your business grows and you will be in need of more space? That said, it’s best that you find a warehouse that has much more space than what you currently need.

2) See to it that the warehouse is located near travel and access points like roads and airports. You have to be able to transport things from the warehouse to your customers or stores in the fastest ways possible. As much as possible, stay away from areas where the roads are always clogged by vehicular traffic. Your business will suffer the consequences if you won’t be able to deliver your goods on time. For this to be possible, sometimes you have to find a warehouse from the outskirts of the city.

3) You should be able to hire employees from the areas surrounding your new distribution warehouse. This will save you a lot of time and money especially if you employ several people in your warehouse. First of all, the employees live nearby so you don’t have to provide housing for them. They also know the area and this knowledge can come in handy when your warehouse is finally in full operation.

4) Always consider your distribution markets. For illustration purposes, let’s say that you want to target five distribution markets and you need a warehouse to take care of these markets. What you need to do is find a location that’s nearest to all of these distribution markets. You will need to consult with engineers and surveyors to determine the most suitable location for your warehouse.

5) Make sure that you adhere with all the policies and regulations of the city or town with regards to establishing a distribution warehouse. It would be very unfortunate if you can’t fully operate your new warehouse just because of an overlooked violation. So always consult with professionals and the government to ensure that you are in line with the law.

Always keep these tips in mind when you go looking for a new distribution warehouse.