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What To Do In A Warehouse Emergency

November 15, 2021

In the event of a warehouse emergency, you should calmly follow your OSHA evacuation plan template you put in place when you created your Emergency Action Plan (EAP). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide safe work environments, and this includes developing an EAP.

OSHA offers many resources for creating and writing your own EAP while ensuring it complies with OSHA’s emergency requirement standards. The process of formulating a detailed EAP for your business is well beyond the scope of this article, so the following information should be used for reference purposes only and as guidance to assist in developing and implementing an effective EAP at your workplace.

Emergency Prevention Training

The best way to prevent most types of emergency situations is through proper training on all equipment, machines, and safety practices used in your warehouse. Your EAP should include details about how employees are trained, how often they are given refresher training, and other such details. In the event of an actual emergency, employees should know the proper evacuation procedures and where to meet. Supervisors or managers should take a role count to ensure all employees have left the building. It is highly recommended to conduct monthly drills simulating different emergency scenarios to enhance training.

Creating Safe Work Environments

In addition to having an EAP, warehouses need to take steps to verify work areas are kept safe at all times. This could include:

  • Ensuring shelving is properly installed and labeled with maximum load weight labels.
  • Performing regular maintenance of all equipment and machinery to verify it meets current safe operating specifications.
  • Never operating equipment or machinery that is malfunctioning or not working correctly.
  • Wearing the appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) as required in certain work areas or jobs.
  • Keeping accurate records of employee training, machine and equipment maintenance, and other logs to assist in keeping employees safe.
  • Identifying potential new threats, risks, and hazards and developing effective safety protocols.

For warehouses where fork lift trucks are in use, there should be specific procedures in place for moving, transporting, and loading and unloading materials. For instance, setting up temporary barriers in the area where the lift truck is being operated to keep other employees from entering this location.

Lift Truck, Equipment, and Machinery Safety

Lift trucks, lifting equipment, and machinery used in warehouses should have their own detailed safety guidelines and procedures. These should include what employees need to inspect and verify prior to using them, as well as what procedures and policies to follow in the event of an emergency.If you use forklifts, machinery, or equipment continuously over several shifts or round the clock, there are additional safety guidelines you will want to follow and implement. For instance, each lift truck operator is responsible for performing inspections prior to the start of their shift and use of the vehicle.While not all emergencies can be prevented, having an EAP in place will ensure your employees are prepared should an emergency ever occur. 

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