Working in a warehouse can be dangerous. In fact, the warehouse industry as a whole has one of the highest fatality rates of any industry.  The key to working safely is to know the rules, regulations and guidelines that have been established for safety, and follow them. It’s part of being a good warehouse employee.

Here are six guidelines to know.

1. Make sure the warehouse areas are clean

Materials spilled on the floor or tools not put away properly can be safety hazards. It’s easy to slip and trip on them. Any liquid or other ingredients spilled on the floor need to be cleaned up immediately. Tools, cords or packaging needs to be put away. If you see this is not being done, alert a supervisor.

2. Make sure warehouse areas are organized properly

Warehouse areas need to be organized so it is clear where workers are supposed to walk – and where they aren’t. Yellow safety tape or other markers should demarcate the safety areas. Loading docks and other elevated areas must have warning signs and yellow tape to ensure people are clearly aware of where the edge is.

3. Attend and follow training sessions

You will likely receive a safety orientation during the first few days of work. Be sure to follow all procedures. Ask questions if something needs to be clarified. Review any training materials, such as manuals or PowerPoint presentations, thoroughly.

If your job requires personal protective equipment (PPE), such as heavy shoes, earplug, or safety googles, be sure to wear it.

4. Make sure equipment is maintained properly

Equipment should have a maintenance plan to take care of any wear, tear or damage. Employees should inspect equipment, pallets and racking systems periodically.

While it may be someone else’s job to maintain or repair equipment, you can be a first line of defense. If you notice a machine is not working properly or pallets and racking systems seem unstable, bring it to the attention of a supervisor.

5. Be mindful of barriers and gates

Warehouses install barriers and gates around areas that either present a risk of falling or to maintain a safe distance from dangerous equipment, such as heavy machinery or forklifts. Be mindful not only of the barriers and gates themselves, but of being outside the zone you should be in. The safe zone, barriers and gates should also be clearly demarcated in yellow and have warning signs.

6. Know the right way to lift

All too many warehouse injuries are caused by lifting heavy items the wrong way. A back injury can make any movement difficult and painful. Don’t run the risk of one.

If possible, always use equipment to lift. If you need to lift a load, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Lift using the strength of your legs, not your back. Don’t twist or turn while lifting. Also, always make sure you can see over the items you’re lifting; otherwise, you might run into things or not see people or equipment approaching.

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