As a warehouse owner or manager, you understand how a clean and organized workspace can affect the productivity and efficiency of your operation, as well as the motivation of your workers. This can ultimately result in several negative effects on your day-to-day overall production and operation, leading to loss of revenue and an increased risk of accidents and injuries.
For this reason, warehouse safety standards should be followed at all costs to reduce workplace hazards.
Safety Risks of Warehouse Clutter
Without proper organization, a messy warehouse does not simply indicate a penchant for clutter but also a lack of inventory consideration and a disregard for the safety of employees.
Let us take a look at how disorganization and clutteredness of a warehouse affect the safety of the warehouse:
- Fire Risk
The risk of fire is probably the most serious threat posed by cluttered and untidy spaces. Disorganization of hoarded items, paper, wood products, and other combustible materials can create a huge risk for fire. Piles of flammable items located near electronics, such as computers and photocopiers can also increase the likelihood of fire.
Additionally, when light materials fall or begin to burn, they can block fire exits and other escape routes quickly. Obstruction of fire exits does not only make escape difficult during a fire but also makes firefighting and rescue attempts more challenging.
- Structural Integrity
Improperly piled items can put immense pressure on your walls and floor. This is especially true if you are utilizing upper floors that are not designed to sustain heavy loads. It could potentially result in structural collapse including ceilings caving in or walls sustaining damage. This could lead to thousands of dollars worth of repairs for the building itself and affected equipment.
- Trips and Falls
Many injuries occurring in the workplace are caused by accidental trips and falls due to untidy or cluttered spaces. Among the most reported causes of tripping hazards include loose wires and incorrect placement of equipment. Improperly stacked items also increase the risk of falling accidents, which often cause crush injuries.
When these happen, warehouse owners often face negligence lawsuits and claims from employees injured while at work. Failure to provide your workers with a safe and clean workspace could cost you a substantial amount of money. This is why it is important to create a safe and organized environment for both you and your personnel.
- Health Issues
Mould growth is another key concern of cluttered items. When the warehouse lacks ventilation, large amounts of cluttered materials can provide a nurturing environment for mould. Breathing in mould spores can affect the respiratory health of exposed workers, aggravating asthma and increasing the risk of workers developing serious respiratory conditions.
Make sure that your management personnel does not fall behind when it comes to your company’s standards of warehouse cleanliness and tidiness. The risks that come with cluttered and unsafe warehouse environments are much too costly to ignore. Everybody’s safety should be on your top list of priorities.
Other Effects of Clutter and Safety Issues
Safety issues as a result of clutter can also lead to other problems including:
- Lowered Productivity Levels
Disorganized placement of pallets, shrink wraps, and other materials in the warehouse aisles are safety hazards, but they also impact the throughput rate of every warehouse worker, which affects the profitability of the site.
Keeping the warehouse clean can be challenging, given the accumulated dust from the gravel parking lots or unsealed floors. Regardless, cleanliness and safety rules for the warehouse should be a top priority as it helps build the confidence and motivation of your workers.
- High Employee Turnover Rates
A disorganized warehouse can give your employees the idea that your company does not take much interest in the cleanliness and safety in its facility. Employees will realize that management does not consider their personal comfort and safety a priority. This can significantly drop employee morale and increase the employee turnover rate.
Creating a Safe Environment for Your Warehouse
Observing good housekeeping in the warehouse and having a comprehensive safety warehouse checklist in place shows that your company management prioritizes employee safety, excellence, and adherence to standards. It will allow you to implement a more optimized inventory management system, improve employee safety, and save on labour costs.
Here are 3 quick warehouse safety tips to keep your warehouse uncluttered, organized, and safe:
- Assign a Warehouse Champion
Designating a champion (often a supervisor) is the first step in ensuring a clean, organized, and safe warehouse environment. The champion should serve as the visionary who helps identify potential hazards and create a cleaning and decluttering plan which will increase the value of the organization and paint a good impression to your clients.
- Evaluate the Condition of the Warehouse
A thorough assessment of the state of the warehouse should be the first order of business. To undertake an honest evaluation, the warehouse champion should identify the following factors:
- Is there debris blocking the aisle?
- Are returns and write-offs placed back in their designated area or scattered throughout the facility?
- Are pallets properly and neatly stacked?
Warehouse clutter is usually an indication of a deeper problem in the facility and business. After determining specific problematic areas, the warehouse champion develops processes that will clear up the mess. For instance, a pile of boxes placed in the middle of the aisle may mean that bin placement is not optimal. Picking up the boxes will not be enough to keep the place clutter-free. The warehouse champion should come up with a solution, perhaps strategically repositioning the bins where they are most needed. This way, obsolete boxes will be placed directly into the bins instead of on a pile on the floor.
- Begin the Clean Up
Warehouse cleanup is not a job solely for the warehouse champion; it should be a group effort. The supervisor must assign a (ware)housekeeping leader to spearhead the cleanup effort.
In addition, it is vital that you set cleanup rules to standardize the disposal of debris and the reporting inefficiencies. Investing in more disposal containers can also streamline the cleanup.
Taking time to consider these warehouse safety facts can contribute to the overall success of your operations. In addition, keeping the warehouse tidy and ensuring that all your employees are safe says a lot about the values and culture of your company. It also encourages employee loyalty while minimizing downtime rates due to accidents.
Clutter can also pose a risk to various machine operations, including forklifts. Operating in cluttered warehouses can place your forklift operators in danger of underride accidents and injuries. While you are decluttering your facility, look into installing The Backbone for your standup forklifts and reach trucks to reinforce all the other safety measures you’ve put in place. Call Lakeport Metalcraft Inc. today at (416) 587- 5809 as added protection for your forklift drivers.