Warehouse managers take all necessary precautions to ensure products remain in deliverable condition. DAK offers many warehouse solutions; tips for reducing product damage include climate control, security measures, ongoing training, and scrupulous attention to cleanliness to maintain product integrity within the warehouse environment.
Sustain Your Culture of Safety
People always come first in your warehouse. Unfortunately, most product damage results from human error. Minimizing accidents by sustaining a culture of safety can minimize product damage in the warehouse environment.
Well-trained warehouse workers who know their safety are of the utmost importance to warehouse managers, as they will meet and exceed stringent standards for minimizing product damage. A culture of safety ensures that warehouse managers and staff understand that safety protocols are for everyone’s protection and that safety procedures also protect the integrity of products that are racked, stacked, palleted, and transported on conveyors and forklifts.
Warehouse managers understand that sustaining a culture of safety goes beyond training and includes ensuring that workers feel safe and supported when reporting safety issues and concerns. Workers should be able to see tangible evidence that managers take those reports seriously and address them promptly.
Complacency is the enemy of safety. Regular safety reviews reinforce how valuable warehouse workers are to your company’s success and prove that you care about worker safety. Safety reviews may include refreshers on required personal protective equipment (hardhats, gloves, and eye protection where warranted) to emergency procedures for spills, fires, and tagout/lockout procedures for damaged or idle equipment.
In a warehouse that maintains a culture of safety, employees regard ongoing training and refreshers as welcome indications of regard for their well-being on the job. Employees who are properly trained and certified and who undergo regular refreshers on safety procedures, equipment use, security measures, and emergency procedures will achieve stellar results in minimizing product damage in the warehouse.
Invest in Climate Control and Weather Protection
Forces beyond human control can have a major impact on the stability and integrity of products in the warehouse. Powerful storms with excessive rain, snow, and wind are becoming more common, as are extreme heat waves, humidity, and droughts. These weather extremes can all affect the internal climate of your warehouse. Climate control measures with real-time monitoring are worth the investment, as excessive heat and moisture can weaken paper-based cartons, boxes, and totes and the products packaged within them. Weakened or sagging stacks of paper-based packaged inventory are a common hazard for high humidity areas or seasons, risking falling inventory, damaged products, and human injuries.
Conduct regular roof inspections, stay current with HVAC maintenance, and make sure the warehouse environment is properly ventilated, installing air quality filters where warranted.
If your warehouse is located in an area prone to seismic activity, your local codes may require stronger racks, different footplates, and other stabilization measures. Consult with seismic engineers before installing any new racking or changing the configuration of your racks.
Watch the Weight
The quality of pallets and attention to their weight limits is of the utmost importance when maintaining the integrity of products stored in warehouses. No pallet lasts forever; ensure that warehouse staff takes damaged pallets out of circulation for recycling and replacement.
Post charts in prominent places reminding workers of pallet weight limits by size. Overloaded pallets are at risk of failure, which can result in spills and product damage.
Install Guardrails and Netting
Today’s internal warehouse traffic is fast-paced and commonly congested. Electric pallet jacks, forklifts, and stackers can all cause significant damage to racking and products if used improperly. Protect your racks, utility areas, and aisles with guardrails, end-of-row guards, and column protectors. Employ netting in your racks to prevent falling product in the event a pallet gets nudged or damaged during stacking or removal of adjacent pallets. Guardrails and other warehouse safety barriers make the work environment safer for all workers. Contain and protect machinery with steel wire partitions. Guardrails can define and separate forklift lanes from pedestrian walkways and keep both drivers and pedestrians safer in your warehouse.
Enforce Safety Checklists
Complacency is the enemy of safety. Impress upon your forklift drivers and machine operators that completing safety checklists every time they will be using equipment is mandatory. Machinery that is in constant use is also at constant risk of wear and malfunction. Safety checklists must never be regarded as rote; on any day or at any moment, a serious safety issue for any piece of equipment may come to light with the completion of the required checklist.
Keep Aisles Clean
It seems like a no-brainer, but in a busy warehouse where operations move quickly, aisles can become cluttered, or dirt and debris can build up, risking slip and fall accidents or even forklift control issues. Every shift should devote time to cleaning up to ensure aisles are clear, free of debris, and safe for workers and machinery to enter.
Install Better Lighting and Clear Signage
It’s hard to ensure aisles are clear and clean if you can barely see the floor and your racks interfere with lighting. Ensure that lighting is bright enough, reaches all corners of the warehouse, and is properly positioned to avoid fire hazards and not interfere with sprinkler systems. Changing out bulbs can be an inconvenience, but it’s necessary to ensure proper lighting and a clear line of sight within a warehouse.
Signage can save lives. Fire exits, fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, restricted areas, hard hat areas, and areas with dangerous machinery or electrical and mechanical hazards must be clearly marked. The signage should be easy to understand and provide instructions about keeping out, staying back, restricting the area to authorized personnel only, and requiring protective gear. Signage should appear in all the languages normally used in the warehouse so that all workers know how to keep themselves safe and what precautions to take. If generally accepted safety images or icons can be used for multi-cultural environments as additional support, that is an added level of safety.
Maintain Detailed Damage Reports
Warehouse workers are the front line in helping prevent product damage. Their documented observations about how damage occurs are invaluable to your business. Front line workers are best situated to identify how products get damaged and suggest ways to prevent such damage in the future. Demonstrate that you value worker suggestions and input. Find proactive ways to reward the entire team when damage rates decline or your warehouse achieves a goal of reducing damage to an ambitious level, whether it’s 1-1,00 or 1-100,000.
Secure Your Perimeter: Use Motion Detectors and Security Cameras
Unauthorized people on your warehouse premises are a hazard to themselves, your workers, and products stored in your warehouse. Ensure you have a robust security system designed to monitor your entire location. This includes views of all doors, docks, and outdoor parking areas and all aisles, electric rooms, and telecom rooms on your premises. Motion detectors and security cameras can keep workers and visitors safe inside and outside your warehouse.
Prioritize Pest Control
Rodents, birds, racoons, foxes—you name it, and sooner or later, some kind of uninvited pest may find its way into your warehouse and cause product or structural damage. Every warehouse should have regularly scheduled visits from professional pest control. These visits should include preventative measures like sealing cracks, caulking around doors and windows, and implementing other types of deterrents recommended by your professional pest control partner.
Maintaining the integrity of racked products, cartons traveling on conveyors, and palleted items to avoid product damage will save money, solidify your reputation as a reliable warehouse business, and help keep everyone in the warehouse safe.
DAK provides various warehouse solutions. Our tips for reducing product damage can help you maintain a safe and productive warehouse, and our supplies and equipment will protect your employees and your premises.