OSHA Checklist for Warehouses

Warehouse vehicles must be inspected and driver's licenses checked periodically.
Warehouse vehicles must be inspected and driver's licenses checked periodically. (Image: Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is designed to protect employees' safety and heath. OSHA has joined hands with The International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) to address material handling, forklift safety, and hazard communication and chemical safety in warehouses. OSHA and IWLA develop and deliver training and education programs regarding warehouse industry hazards.

The Warehouse

A warehouse can be a hazardous place to work, and ensuring safety should be one of the priorities of owners and operators. It is important that a warehouse where workers spend several hours working every day has enough ventilation and is clean and the floor is free from debris. It is also important to ensure a warehouse has enough lighting in the work area. Racks and shelving must be in good condition to prevent them from injuring workers. Where they are needed, guardrails must be installed, especially for overhead storage; platforms and aisles must remain clear from storage.

Material Handling

A warehouse must have an adequate number of hand trucks and other material-handling equipment. Employees must be trained to use the correct lifting techniques. In fact, every forklift operator must complete an OSHA forklift-operator training program. All equipment, including forklifts, must be inspected before use and service logs maintained. To avoid running over and injuring fellow workers, every forklift must have a warning back-up alarm. Operators of such equipment must also sound horns at corners and doorways to alert other workers who might be standing in the path.

Fire Safety

In case of a fire in the warehouse, workers must be able to use exit doors freely. This means the paths leading to the doors must remain clear all the time. There must also be clear Exit signs to make sure every employee is ushered out quickly in the event of a fire. Storage should be kept at least 18 inches below sprinkler heads. Then electrical outlets and junction boxes must be properly covered, with machinery and other electrical equipment properly grounded. Forklifts must be equipped with fire extinguishers.

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