Warehouse accidents are rampant! Last week’s blog highlighted several forklift-related accidents that happened in the past month and outlined the 5 checklists to follow to avoid them.
In this blog, we will focus on the element of warehouse management that is key to minimising the chances of accidents – traffic management.
A warehouse manager is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their employees and others who visit your workplace. To that end, every warehouse manager’s role is to manage the physical environment, loadshifting equipment and people, to decrease the chances of collision and accidents, a process known as traffic management.
The NSW Work Cover has developed a comprehensive traffic management plan checklist to “provide guidance to managers and supervisors of small to medium businesses on how to develop, implement and maintain safe systems of work, intended to eliminate or control the risks of collision in a warehousing and/or storage environment”.
- Talk to employees about safety issues
- Encourage employees to report safety problems
- Inspect your workplace regularly to identify safety problems
- Fix all identified problems
- Supervise and train employees to carry out work safely
- If a forklift can be substituted by a more ‘pedestrian friendly’ loadshifting equipment, do it. If not, design the workplace to eliminate the need for pedestrian access in the vicinity of a forklift
- Study the loadshifting equipment and pedestrian movement in the workplace to identify any potential for collision
- Designate ‘no go’ zones for both loadshifting equipment and people based on their movements, braking distance, stability and loads handled. If necessary, change the layout or equipment to avoid accidents
- Ensure there is proper supervision to monitor effectiveness of controls to make sure you are aware of any incidents
- Designate and clearly mark an area for loadshifting equipment to park or recharge, ensuring that no such equipment should park on pedestrian walkways
- Conduct daily pre-operational checks of brakes, fitted seat belts, lights, warning devices, steering, tires, controls, horn, mast and hydraulics, chains, hand brake, load capacity plate and falling object protection
Barricades / Barriers / Bollards:
- Enclose designated loadshifting equipment operating areas with physical barriers to prevent pedestrian access
- Relocate employees that work within loadshifting equipment operating areas or put in place strong physical barriers such as guard rails or steel railings
- Install inward opening pedestrian gates to ensure people stop and look before crossing
- Enforce right of way procedures which indicate who must give way
- Build elevated pedestrian crossings or designate pedestrian crossing on the pavement
- Separate loadshifting equipment parking or recharge area with bollards or safety railings
- Separate access paths for vehicles and pedestrians. Consider using partitions or dividing screens
- Ensure blind spot areas are separated using rails
- Install barriers to protect other vulnerable equipment, pits or places where employees work
- Place barriers or bollards at entry and exit points of the building to prevent pedestrians from walking into the path of oncoming or passing vehicles
Layout / Line Marking
- Clearly line mark pedestrian walkways, roadways and loadshifting equipment operating areas based on speed limits, stopping distances and efficient workflow
- Minimise the cross flow of traffic, intersections and blind spots
- Line mark ‘customer pick up’ parking areas and ensure they are positioned close to pedestrian walkways or provide access to them without having to cross driveways, or loading dock vehicle paths
- Use line marking and/or marker posts in docking areas to indicate distances from dock, to advice driver of proximity to dock
- Provide line marking for traffic flow markings, loadshifting equipment parking, driver designated safe areas, car parking, keep clear zones, lane numbering where multiple docks exist and speed humps
Signage / Warning Devices
- Install eye ball convex mirrors to provide better visibility for pedestrians and equipment operators
- Ensure all loadshifting equipment carries reflective markings and pedestrians within vehicle access areas to wear high visibility clothing or reflective vests
- Provide additional lighting
- Ensure loadshifting equipment have fitted and maintained reversing beepers and/or flashing lights
- Clearly mark such things as cabling or ducting with high visibility materials
- Prominently display clear warning signs in relevant, well lit areas to remind people of the traffic management hazards and requirements
Training, Systems, Policies and Procedures
- Ensure operators are adequately trained and licensed where required
- Do not allow other people to operate machinery without assessing their competency
- Have operational manuals readily available for operators to read
- Ensure that employees have undergone a site safety induction prior to being permitted to use loadshifting equipment
- Ensure safe work procedures are in place for operators of loadshifting equipment: Ensure loads don’t exceed equipment capacity; loadshifting equipment to cease work if pedestrians enter a pedestrian exclusion zone; horns must be sounded when crossing intersections, pedestrian walkways or any other pedestrian access points; staff are not allowed to tamper with or modify loadshifting equipment without authorisation"
- Ensure employees and visitors have been given the appropriate traffic management procedures and training. Non-inducted visitors must be supervised at all times when walking through the site
- Clearly identify pedestrian walkways and traffic direction
- Ensure external delivery drivers are aware of your site’s traffic safety procedures
Personal Protective Equipment
- Ensure pedestrians and drivers (internal and external) wear high visibility clothing (day or night) in traffic areas
- Provide high visibility clothing for visitors or other employees accessing traffic areas from other areas of the workplace
- Develop a policy regarding appropriate footwear in the workplace where you clearly define the term ‘appropriate footwear'
- Ensure people accessing vehicle areas wear the appropriate safety footwear
External Traffic Management Requirements
- Install traffic-calming devices to reduce the speed of vehicles, especially when approaching pedestrian or loadshifting equipment operating zones
- Provide line markings, signage and barriers for safe pedestrian walkways
- Provide line markings on the ground to indicate appropriate parking lanes, driver safe zones and walkways for drivers of vehicles being loaded and unloaded
- Define safety zones protected by bollards so that drivers or unloading crew can supervise unloading from a safe distance
It is advised to review your warehouse against this traffic management checklist at least once a year, or when there are major changes to your workplace such as new equipment or process changes. Get your employees involved when running through this traffic management checklist so that you get a better understanding of how they follow it, and since they are on the floor experiencing it, they can help you develop the best solution to the problem.
Read our whitepaper below to get more tips on managing warehouse operations.