With higher temperatures and more temporary staff on the ground, summer is a time to take extra special care of your warehouse staff. Cat ® Lift Trucks has some seasonal advice on keeping your workforce safe and productive.
If you ask your forklift truck drivers and warehouse operators how they prepare for the summer, they are most likely to talk about measures for cooling the workplace as the temperatures rise. That’s important, but what about that other big annual change – the sudden influx of students, trainees and other seasonally employed personnel to cover staff on annual leave and extra workloads?
It’s a major safety concern. When staff are new to each other, to the job and to your operational practices, there are more possibilities for things to go wrong. Statistics show that numbers of materials handling accidents often increase at times when large numbers of additional workers are taken on by the warehouse.
The results can be disastrous – and deadly. To ensure staff don’t pose a risk to each other and to avoid tragedies, you need to make sure that certain safety steps are taken.
Training - It is vital that everyone who works within materials handling in the warehouse receives effective training. Those who have already been trained elsewhere will be able to show you their certificates which can be checked with the training organisation that issued them. However, some refresher training may still be needed. Statistically, pedestrian workers are much more likely to be injured or killed by forklift trucks than lift truck drivers are, and so you will need to make sure all your staff are trained to work safely around any materials handling machinery.
Training is always a very worthwhile investment, as it reduces accidents, minimises damage to goods and equipment, and helps employees to work more productively.
Supervision - You should also ensure that all workers are properly supervised, remind them of safe practices, enforce your safety rules and be prepared to discipline those who break them.
Value - Make sure that you value your seasonal employees, treat them well and let them know that they are also valued members of staff. You may need them for the next busy period, or as permanent staff when your business grows. Some of them may even end up to be your future logistics managers!
Stay safe and keep cool
Another risk factor in the summer which can cause an increase in warehouse accidents is the weather - high temperatures, especially like those experienced so far this year. Staff who are uncomfortable and tired because of an excessively hot workplace may lose concentration and make mistakes.
Bear in mind, too, that employees won’t achieve full productivity in their work if they are overheated. You may even lose them to businesses which offer better, more acclimatised working conditions.
In the long term, consider the benefits of investing in things like an air conditioning system, ceiling-mounted high-volume low-speed (HVLS) fans, better insulation and a reflective ‘cool roof’. In the meantime, here are our suggestions for more immediate actions to keep your warehouse cool.
Portable cooling: portable industrial fans, dehumidifiers and air conditioners can be moved around and placed wherever they are most needed. In a large, tall warehouse, this may be more cost-efficient than air conditioning for the whole building. When the air is hotter outside than inside, seal the dock doors to keep it out. When it’s hotter indoors than outdoors, open them up to let cool air in – but use screens to stop insects and other pests.
Switch off when not in use: Equipment such as conveyor systems may generate substantial amounts of heat, so it is better to switch it off whenever it isn’t needed. Servicing machinery just before the summer will ensure it doesn’t run inefficiently hot. Additionally, Vinyl-strip curtains can be used to slow down the spread of air from sources of heat like these.
Stay cool, stay safe and have a great summer!