As we mentioned in our previous blog on warehouse and forklift safety, the winter months are a busy time for warehouse personnel. There’s retail, inventory, and in these modern times, the hustle and bustle doesn’t stop on December 25 – there’s boxing day sales, new years events and more to keep your warehouse busy. During these busy times, a racking accident is more likely to occur.
Many warehouses use a racking system – a material handling storage system meant to store materials on pallets, which are commonly known as ‘skids’. Racking accidents look disastrous and can cause injury – they also take time, money and resources to repair (and this is before the cost of replacing the damaged materials).
Racking accidents tend to occur more than once, generally when proper incident investigation and reporting does not take place – these accidents will continue to happen. Managing a racking accident effectively will ultimately improve your companies whole risk management plan.
To prevent further accidents from taking place, proper incident reporting is absolutely necessary. Norm Kramer, a consultant from Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Prevention Services says incidents often remain unreported, for two reasons:
- An ineffective reporting system: It may be common-place to say a racking accident or damage is no big deal in the workplace, and/or the reporting process is too complicated and “not worth dealing with”.
- Employees fear consequences: workers may fear discipline or termination after reporting an accident or near-accident.
Here are 8 steps to take after a racking accident in your warehouse:
Racking Accident: Be Proactive
Have an investigation team already in place. This team should include people who are aware of accident investigation and causation techniques, and are also familiar with roles and routines of the specific workplace. Examples of these team members could be immediate supervisors, outside-contracted employees, union representatives (if necessary), safety committee members or employees familiar with the role.
Create a basic response plan to follow after an accident/emergency, and post in a common area where all employees can see it.
1. Racking Accident: Consult Workers—And Equipment
Examine the injury/incident that has taken place and take not of the situation at hand. Remember to include the basics – who, what, when, where and how. If needed, don’t forget to acquire medical attention. Inspect the rack and determine the type and amount of damage.
2. Racking Accident: Control the Area
Protect worker safety and secure the area if needed. You may need to contain the damage, or unload the racking structure if safe to do so.
3. Racking Accident: Communicate Hazards
Inform workers of hazards on the warehouse floor, and any other obstacles workers should be aware of.
4. Racking Accident: Find the Source
Identify the cause of the accident/hazard. The cause could be incompatible forks and pallets, poor visibility in the warehouse, or not enough space between racking and the forklift to turn properly.
5. Racking Accident: Put Controls in Place
Place controls on the root source of the accident/incident to remedy it. Controls may range from more training, a different warehouse layout or inspections/repairs to equipment.
6. Racking Accident: Keep Communication Open
Keep communication open with management, human resources and any other management or employees relevant to the accident. Be sure to share relevant forms, documents and other required materials with them.
7. Racking Accident: Repair and Inspect
Be sure to have your racking equipment inspected and/or repaired by a qualified professional. Depending on which province you’re in, these regulations may differ. Factors to consider include: building regulations, fire codes and employer responsibilities regarding safety.
Check with your provincial labour ministry for rules and regulations related to storage and material handling, warehouses and other engineered equipment. The Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety recommends following the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) for Steel Storage and Steel Racking units, A344.1 and A344.2.
At Hercules SLR, we provide hands-on training with a focus on safety—we provide lasting knowledge you and your employees can practically apply. Find more information on our Forklift (Narrow Aisle or Counterbalance) Safety Training course here.
Find more information on Hercules SLR inspection services here, so your forklifts remain in top condition. Learn more about the benefits of our asset management tool CertTracker® for your forklifts and other heavy machinery and equipment.