Investing in a strong warehouse safety and health program that includes safety training can provide a substantial return on investment. Those returns can potentially include reduced employee injuries and illnesses, regulatory compliance peace of mind, lower workers compensation insurance premiums and even a more productive workforce.
To get an idea of the potential savings from warehouse safety training, just take a look at the $afety Pays tool, an interactive calculator from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). This tool can help assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses.
The question is: Where to start? How warehouse safety can be improved? According to OSHA, training and education are core parts of a safety and health program and can be broken down into four action items:
- Provide program awareness training
- Train employers, managers and supervisors on their roles in the program
- Train workers on their specific roles in the safety and health program
- Train workers on hazard identification and controls
Some training will be very general, including making sure everyone understands the big picture and how they fit in. This training will include safety policies and responsibilities, as well as incident reporting procedures.
On the other hand, some warehouse safety training should be more tailored and designed to address job-specific hazards. Many OSHA standards require employers to train workers on specific hazards they may face. In a warehouse, examples of areas that are well-suited for this more targeted training include:
- Powered industrial trucks
- Walking and working surfaces (falls from elevated heights and the same level)
Finding and Developing Warehouse Safety Training Courses
To ensure a safe and healthy warehouse—and a sound training program—one thing you'll need is training courses and materials. According to OSHA, the best training programs are:
For accuracy and credibility, you'll want materials that are prepared, updated and delivered by qualified and experienced people. OSHA itself provides an array of interactive online safety training tools and videos, as well as a library of online safety training and reference materials. Grainger also offers resources for many warehouse safety training topics, including forklift training, lockout/tagout training and machine guarding.
Delivering Warehouse Safety Instruction
Training materials are just part of the picture. You'll also need to think about how those materials are delivered. This is where being clear and practical, and having enough space and proper equipment, really matters.
According to OSHA, when training is clear, it's delivered in a language that participants can understand and is free from confusing jargon. When training is practical, it connects directly to participants' working lives: they understand the ideas and see how they can put them into action.
Keep in mind, the "where" also matters. You'll need space for all participants to sit comfortably and to interact with each other. You'll also need to think about equipment for demonstrations and hands-on practice, as well as technical or visual resources.
OSHA gives more best practices for safety training in its publication on developing and delivering training to workers.
How Can Warehouse Safety Be Improved?
It's as true in a warehouse as in any other work area: “Training and education are elements of a strong injury and illness prevention program that can help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers get hurt,” OSHA states. “Safe jobs exist because employers make a conscious decision, each and every day, to make protecting workers a priority.”
Lastly, it's important to measure the effectiveness of the worker safety training program. For guidance on training evaluation, OSHA recommends the Resource Guide for Evaluating Worker Training: A Focus on Safety and Health.
The bottom line is that effective safety training can help lower rates of injury and other incidents. And when that happens, it's a great return on investment for all parties involved.