Best Practices for Warehouse Safety and Productivity

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Managing a warehouse takes more than manning the flow of items–you also have to maintain the warehouse’s safety and productivity at all times. A sudden breakdown of the conveyor system in a massive warehouse, a faulty crane–all these things and more can throw day-to-day operations into disarray. This can lead to delays in order fulfillments or an increase in project hours (due to time spent repairing machinery or cleaning up the aftermath of a technical snag), which could not only cost you customers/deals, but also lead to hazards that endanger both the property and warehouse personnel. Hence, warehouse maintenance procedures should be given as much priority as other daily operations.

Best practices for warehouse safety and productivity

Below, we’ve outlined some best practices to help you prevent hazards and maintain a safe and productive warehouse.

Preventive maintenance

You can prevent most workplace hazards by putting the following measures into practice:

Recruitment & training

  • While recruiting workers for your facility, ensure that they are certified by an authorized institution for operating the equipment you have installed in your warehouse, such as forklifts, cranes, etc. This will not only improve operational efficiency, but it will also reduce the chance of accidents and their associated losses.
  • Conduct safety drills, such as fire and evacuation drills, regularly. This will prepare your warehouse personnel to remain calm during real emergencies and respond automatically to resolve such situations.
  • Promote awareness of practices followed by pioneers in your industry to keep your warehouse personnel well-informed.
  • Although maintaining safety is its own reward, it never hurts to encourage your employees with a little something extra. To incentivize your workforce, you can design collective safety programs that encourage employees to uphold your safety standards at the highest level.(For instance, you can offer your employees a little bonus for every month/suitable time period that is free from accidents. You can also show your appreciation to those who uphold safety from time to time by identifying model employees and honoring them with medals or commendations.)

Safety equipment & precautions

  • Ensure safety equipment, such as helmets, industrial boots, etc., are used at all times.
  • Make sure that the necessary hazard mitigation equipment, such as sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, etc., are installed in your warehouses in appropriate places. Having such systems in place will give your team the necessary buffer to identify, control, and prevent any compromising incidents from occurring.
  • Clearly label hazardous zones, highlight exits and assembly points. Have the warehouse layout diagrams posted on all floors and levels.
  • Ensure all warehousing floors are free of slip and trip hazards. It is the collective responsibility of all employees to keep the floor free of stray cords, liquids, and any other potentially hazardous items. If found, pits and cracks are to be fixed as soon as possible.

Hygiene & pest control

  • With large doors and several windows, your warehouse can become an easy target for pests like birds, rodents, and insects who are constantly in search of food and shelter. If left unchecked, they can infest your workplace, destroy your stored goods, and hamper daily activity (imagine birds pecking at your personnel or rats gnawing at your goods–the horror!). You can prevent such instances with some preparation.
    • Draft a pest control plan. You need to draft a plan that is specific to the types of pests you deal with (this can mean that you may need to create more than one plan). This plan must include:
      • Information on the types of pests.
      • A list of vulnerable areas.
      • Goods that are favored by these pests.
      • Ways to monitor and record the frequency of infestation.
      • Pest control methods.
      • A clean up & pest purging schedule.
    • Carry out routine site inspections. Inspect the condition of your windows, floor tiles, roof, toilets, and especially the corners where you see the least movement of goods and personnel on a regular day. (Cracks on the floor or the walls can serve as easy gateways for pests, while corners and less accessed pockets of your warehouse make perfect potential habitat. Conduct a thorough sweep to eliminate them)
    • Set up a cleaning routine, pick a section, move the goods temporarily and clean your storage areas and bins. Apply the appropriate pest repellant wherever necessary.
    • Periodic rearrangement of goods can also make it difficult for pests to settle in. (This is because animals generally shy away from human presence and environments that see a lot of activity and noise)
    • Use of nets, ultrasonic pest repellers, and the age old scarecrows can significantly discourage pests from encroaching into your workspace.
    • Hire a pest control professional if you need more protection.

Planned maintenance

Periodic maintenance can minimize equipment downtime and reduce maintenance costs. Below are some basic maintenance tips you should follow to keep your warehouse running at full capacity:

Have a maintenance plan

  • Certain parts of warehouse equipment, such as hydraulic filters, mechanical seals, wear rings, etc., have an operational lifespan, beyond which they have to be replaced or renewed in order to keep the equipment functioning properly. The more machinery you have, the harder it is to keep them in good condition. Hence, it is important to create a maintenance plan to have your equipment monitored and serviced regularly. When drafting a maintenance plan, you must make sure of two things:
    • The equipment downtimes during service should not affect regular operation.
    • If you have multiple units of critical equipment, scheduling all of them for maintenance at the same time will heavily disrupt your workflow. It can even bring your regular activities to a complete halt. Instead, make sure to assign service routine times to each piece of equipment so that they do not overlap with each other.

Stay vigilant

  • Carry out inspections and manage checklists to document the condition of your equipment. For equipment that is complex and expensive, it is often better to employ/hire technicians, or have AMCs (Annual Maintenance Contracts) with equipment service providers.
  • For large warehouses with a lot of equipment, a CMMS software (Computerized Maintenance Management System) can be especially useful, as they can store information on a company’s maintenance procedures, indicate the status of their machinery, track the availability of spare parts, and generate reports.

Use the gold you have mined

  • Interact with your employees on a regular basis to find out possible bottlenecks that reduce efficiency.

By regularly monitoring your warehouse equipment, spares, and procedures, and promoting the wellbeing of your personnel, you’ll not only increase the productivity of your warehouse, but you’ll also minimize your losses in the event of an emergency or accident. Work with your employees to make sure your warehouse is as safe as it can be.

That concludes our article on some basic tips to keep your warehouse at its best. You can keep your warehouse even more efficient by implementing an Warehouse Management System (OMS) that helps you streamline order inflow and monitor your stock movement across all revenue streams.

The good news is, you don’t have to look far. We have built a FIFO based WMS that has helped streamline the inventories of thousands of businesses around the world. It can handle both online and offline sales and it supports multi-currency and shipping integrations for a smoother warehouse management experience. Try Zoho Inventory’s warehouse management features today for free!

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  1. Mano

    good thank u very useful

  2. Petronillah

    Wooow. That was amazing. Thank you so much. We have a small store and planning to upgrade, we will get in touch with you for the software for our upcoming warehouse. Thank you.

  3. Meng

    As a warehousing officer I am really inspired with new creative ideas and have come acros great knowledge about managing it



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