In any industry, a warehouse is a vibrant place that hosts a variety of activities taking place day in and out. Pedestrian workers, moving vehicles and forklifts, loading and unloading of cargo can all lead to unpleasant situations, accidents, injuries, even death. Hence, it is of vital importance that a proper warehouse traffic management safety system is in place that ensures the safety and wellbeing of the workers.
In a typical warehouse, with only a few exceptions, the following activities take place at any given time:
All these activities necessitate movement of people, material, and machinery from one location to another. No matter how coordinated, planned, or organised these activities may be, there are bound to be lapses resulting in mishaps if there is no warehouse traffic management system in place.
Every organisation must study the design and layout of their warehouse/s and accordingly devise a plan with the help of safety and security experts. There are a few basic but key rules to keep in mind:
Drafting and implementing an effective warehouse traffic management system isn’t a day’s or week’s job. It is a result of years of study, review, and experience of working with people and processes in busy warehouses and factories. When such a system is developed, it leads to not just safer workplaces but also efficient and productive ones. Let us take a look at some of the hallmarks of an effective warehouse traffic management system.
The vehicles in a warehouse are constantly on the move. They stop, unload goods, reverse, and so on. To deal with them, it is best to keep their lanes one-way. There should be separate entry and exit points for them, especially bigger vehicles. These routes should be free of oil, potholes, and preferably done in concrete so that there is proper grip for the tyres of the vehicles. To the extent possible, the vehicles routes should not have steep gradients but simple plain surfaces.
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable in a warehouse and so their zones should be clearly demarcated. Vehicles should not be allowed near these zones. Install barriers as needed to remind the pedestrians of entrances and exits. If the intersection of pedestrians and vehicles cannot be avoided, then warning lights and signs should be extensively used to mark such areas.
The importance of signage and clear instructions can hardly be emphasised. All workers, drivers, and pedestrians must follow them to the core. The signs must be clearly legible, have bright backgrounds (attention grabbing), and be installed at a level higher than the eyes.
Some of the more common signs and instructions for warehouses are:
Forklifts are industrial lifting trucks that lift, stack, and transfer containers from one place to another. Forklifts are an integral part of warehouse operations. They are big machines and hence deserve a separate safety policy. More people are hurt or fatally injured in forklift accidents than any other mishaps in warehouses.
Forklifts are compact machines that do a great job with lifting stuff. However, when they are laden, they can become highly unstable and cause injuries to both the driver as well as workers in its vicinity.
No traffic safety mechanism or system can succeed unless the people whose safety it is meant for, understand it and abide by it. Every worker who enters your warehouse should understand the warehouse traffic management system.
They should be aware of designated pathways; for pedestrians as well as vehicles. They should know the speed limits in force and abide by them. Regular mock drills should be conducted and supervisors must ensure that the teams are correctly following the procedures.
Finally, every system should be flexible enough to adapt itself to changing work environment. Regular reviews should be conducted and possible loopholes identified so that corrective measures are enforced and systems are updated to reflect the changes. A rigid traffic management system will fail to cope up with the change in technology, products, and staff experiences and hence become ineffective in dealing with the day to day issues of warehouse safety.