The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are notoriously hard to understand. At a warehouse, with mezzanine floors several feet or even stories in the air, forklifts, slippery floors, pallets, and heavy objects, without adequate safety precautions accidents are inevitable.
Given the complexity of OSHA rules, you may find it challenging to know precisely what may be required of warehouse management to keep employees safe according to government standards.
Here is a list of violations frequently committed at warehouses.
Avoiding this common warehouse hazards and safety violations can lesson liability in the event of an accident:
1. Safety Inspections
Requiring, enforcing, and documenting regular safety inspections helps avoid company liability and OSHA violations and fines.
Although skipping or not conducting safety inspections is one of the most common violations, it is one of the easiest to avoid.
Ensure that you have a set, enforced procedure with designated personnel held responsible for ensuring safety inspection implementation.
2. Speeding Forklift Drivers
This violation refers not only to ground speed but a forklift driver’s carelessness due to excessive operations such as lifting and moving pallets or object.
Associated with this violation is basic vehicle checks and operating with low hydraulic fluid, indicator lights and sounds inoperable, and general forklift maintenance.
Proper use of ladders results in many OSHA citations annually. Warehouses must conduct training and enforce OSHA ladders safety standards such as load capacity, clearances, step surfaces, and more.
Wherever possible, if workers need regular access to heights, consider using crossovers, permanent platforms, and other means for working beyond arm’s length.
OSHA also has standards required for using step stools.
4. Electrical Wiring
Citations for electrical wiring often are a result of improper use of extension cords.
Improper grounding and overloading circuits also contribute to failing electrical wiring safety inspections by OSHA.
If you use scaffolding in a warehouse, ensure you employ proper anchoring, guard rails, and appropriate construction methods.
6. Load Ratings
You must post load ratings when using overhead storage. The sign must be conspicuously affixed to a wall or rack where workers or visitors can clearly see it.
You need documented load ratings, requiring a structural engineer to analysis and set appropriate ratings.
Missing, inadequate, or incomplete guard rails rank high also in common OSHA violations at warehouses.
OSHA standards include top rails 42 inches from the floor with mid-rails at twenty-one inches.
Railing construction must meet absolute minimums also, and the railing must support at least 200 pounds of force in any direction.
Specific OSHA stairwell measurements require stairs that are:
- At least 16 inches wide and 7 inches deep.
- A maximum of a 10-inch rise between steps.
- Steps must be uniformly spaced and arranged.
9. Toe Boards
OSHA requires toe boards a minimum of 4 inches high and attached ¼ inch or less from the floor.
If product or material is piled above toe-rail height, warehouses must use paneling above the height of the pile to prevent anything from falling.
10. Preventative Safety Training
In adequate preventative, safety training requires more than a basic safety course. OSHA uses a “continuous improvement” standard for safety training.
Warehouses should have a robust safety program identified in writing, with responsible personnel identified and regular, documented safety classes and regular refresher classes for all employees.
11. Use of Respirators
If workers need respirators for any reason, the facility must have a written worker’s respiratory protection program.
Warehouses must document the required medical examinations, and ensure the exams are completed, for any employee that uses a respirator.
OSHA regulations outline the types of respirator and standards of use you can incorporate in plans.
12. Labeling and Signs
Warehouse owners must use proper labeling and signage specific to the operations conducted at the facility.
State and local laws also often require workers’ rights and safety signage.