Common Warehouse Hazards
Hazards exist in every workplace, but the hazards presented in a warehouse or distribution center can be especially dangerous. Some of the most common facility hazards are fires and falling objects, both of which can injure your employees, damage your products, and lose hard-earned profit.
According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments in the US respond to an estimated average of 1,210 fires in warehouses every year. Warehouse fires result in an annual average of $155 million in direct property damage; these fires resulted in the death or injury of 22 individuals.
In addition, the 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index ranks being struck by an object or equipment as the fourth worst cause of injury in US workplaces, costing companies $5.33 billion this year alone. Providing warehouse work area and walkway protection is key to keeping your employees and product safe.
It’s extremely important to maintain open flue space, the space between racks and the items on the racks, in your warehouse. While the exact specifications of flue space maintenance vary depending on the height of your racks, the idea is the same: flue spaces allow vertical fire spread to reach ceiling sprinklers and set them off, and also allow the sprinklers to reach all parts of the warehouse racking.
Without a clear flue space, a fire cannot be put out as easily or at all, causing product loss and potentially much more severe consequences.
There are two types of flue space:
- Transverse flue space – The space between your products on the racks and between the racks themselves that are placed side-by-side.
- Longitudinal flue space – The space between the rows of racks; if you stand at the end of an aisle and look down the row of back-to-back racks, you’re looking at the longitudinal flue space.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the longitudinal flue space must remain clear at all times with a 6″ separation between racks in the down-aisle direction. While a clear transverse flue space is also important, the longitudinal flue space allows heat from a fire to vent upward and ceiling fire sprinklers to work effectively.
It’s simple enough to say the flue space needs to be kept clear, but it can be more challenging in practice when you have many tall racks to maintain. A typical challenge for warehouse personnel occurs when the goods stores on the shelves push through into the flue space.
Preventing push through has historically been expensive and time consuming, but there are other options from the traditional rack safety products. The Rack Safety Strap and Fixed Rack Safety Net help maintain a clear flue space, as well as prevent inventory from being pushed through into an adjacent rack or open work area, potentially causing injury.
Preparing for a Safety Audit
According to OSHA, a warehouse safety audit is an inspection “of the equipment, and commodities at a typical warehouse operation and the most common activities associated with materials handling and storage.”
Consider the following questions when preparing for your safety audit:
- Are aisles and other designated areas clear and open, with no product or equipment in the way?
- Are floor and rack storage limits properly posted? All racks should be labeled with load ratings.
- Are racks in good condition and bolted to the floor?
- Are fire safety measures, such as overhead sprinklers and fire extinguishers, in good condition and unobstructed?
- Are all fire sprinkler control valves in their fully open position?
- Are all emergency exits clear and easy to get to?
- Are pallets in good condition, with no protruding wood or nails? Are they stored properly?
- Is overhead lighting working properly?
- Are products stacked to an appropriate height?
- Are all hazardous materials properly stored and labeled?
- Are employees using appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment)?
- Do dock doors close and open completely?
- Is all equipment, including machinery, in good condition?
- Are guards in place for any hazardous points on moving equipment?
- Are aisles, perimeters, and exterior areas free of loose trash and debris?
If you can’t check off all these key safety measures, put a plan in place to correct the hazards today. There’s no time to waste when it comes to the safety of your employees!
It’s a common misconception that all warehouse safety measures are expensive and time consuming, which can be disheartening when you’re trying to provide a safe work environment for your employees.
Adrian’s Pallet Rack Safety product line offers effective, simple, and affordable solutions for work area protection. Our products do not require any tools or retrofitting, install in seconds, and are more affordable than any other rack safety solutions. Here are some of our products that can help keep your warehouse and products safe by preventing pallet push-through without breaking the bank.
Rack Safety Straps
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End of Aisle Safety Straps
End of Aisle Safety Straps prevent cartons and loose items from falling out of the ends of your pallet racking. These safety straps are perfect for preventing loose objects from falling into a walkway or work area.
End of Aisle Safety Straps work like traditional end of aisle netting without the complicated installation. The straps include specially-angled hardware designed to hook directly into all standard uprights without any tools or retrofitting.
Rack Safety Nets
Rack Safety Nets are great for protecting loose or palletized product. The safety net adds a safety-yellow mesh to the Rack Safety Strap to provide extra protection.
Two versions of our pallet rack netting are available.
Fixed Rack Safety Net
The Fixed Rack Safety Net can be attached to the back of the rack like the rack safety strap to prevent pallet push-through or to the front of the rack to keep product from falling into the work area.
Sliding Rack Safety Net
The Sliding Rack Safety Net was designed specifically for the front of the rack. It allows easy access for pick-and-pack operations while still protecting work areas.
All of Adrian’s Rack Safety Straps and Rack Safety Nets are made from premium, 2-inch cargo webbing. They feature hardware designed to be attached right to the existing pallet rack in just seconds.
Adrian’s Safety Solutions warehouse safety products come in standard sizes for bays ranging from 8 to 13 feet and custom sizes and solutions are available. We are happy to work with you to meet your safety needs.
Rack Safety Cables
Rack Safety Cables provide great product visibility while still keeping product from tipping over into an aisleway. They’re a great solution for a retail environment and offer protection for consumers and employees.
Several standard cable sizes are available – contact us for more information about rack safety cables, including part numbers.
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