Could a WMS help with Health & Safety in the warehouse?
Health & safety is a major concern for warehousing operations and failure to adopt policies and procedures early can leave employers very exposed to serious legal and financial repercussions. Technology has proven to assist warehouse staff in a number of ways by increasing efficiency and productivity. Could a WMS help with Health & Safety in your warehouse?
Every workplace is in danger of safety hazards, whether your day is spent controlling technical equipment, managing heavy machinery, in contact with chemicals or even based in an office. There’s no guarantee your working environment is an accident free zone and all companies need to prioritise the implementation of robust safety precautions and the latest technologies. Warehouses are no exception, with employees exposed to strenuous labour, heavy lifting and even toxic materials.
The warehousing and road haulage industries report over 8,500 work related accidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annually so we review whether a warehouse management system can keep employees safe as well as make them more productive.
Firstly, what does a warehouse management system do?
Warehouse management software is designed to improve stock accuracy, stock rotation and overall performance within the warehouse to ensure the maximum amount of throughput can be achieved with the minimum amount of human resource.
Health and safety related requirements are unlikely to initially prompt a review of warehouse management software but there can be benefits to both employees and employers of implementing a WMS to support health and safety within the warehouse.
The productivity of your warehouse workers depends on their wellbeing and ability to implement efficient processes in the supply chain. The more they improve, the more profitable the warehouse will be. A more comfortable, enjoyable and flexible working environment will encourage employees to bond and perform to the best of their ability.
The warehouse floor is busy, somewhat dangerous, so how can you ensure their safety whilst increasing productivity?
When inducting new employees into a warehousing operation, clear operational guidelines should be set down from day one. This should extend beyond being issue with PPE (personal protective equipment) such as protective footwear and high viability clothing alongside the fire exits being pointed out!
It is sensible for employers to spend time documenting the induction process alongside employees signing off formally to say they have been through the relevant training. Warehouse operatives clearly knowing what their roles are and working within those guidelines should protect all parties keeping everyone safe while at work.
How might a WMS keep workers safe?
Reinforcing training by using a quality warehouse management system to support a defined role will be a big help to ensure each warehouse operative is only issued with work suitable for their role and appropriate to their training.
Having strong user controls within a system will really cement this way of working for employees so there is no confusion over what they should be doing which could result in accidents. Different users will posses different skill sets and experience. The ability to log these credentials against the user will ensure the correct people are being used for the right job.
A good warehouse management system will know what equipment is being used in the warehouse including the location of forklift trucks on site. A WMS which will warn the user if they are going into an aisle where a heavy piece of machinery is operating provides a further level of caution to all members of staff ensuring they keep vigilant while trucks are moving at high speed as they so often do.
A quality warehouse management system can also be adapted to allow for workflow management. If a series of reminders or questions would be useful to a particular activity, having a quick, non-intrusive alert to remind the warehouse operative of their responsibility is a powerful tool to keep everyone on track and ultimately keep them safe.
If an employee spots a fault with e.g. machinery or a broken pallet rack beam, it is the employees responsibility to report this. If it is not reported and subsequently causes an accident, the individual can be at risk also of serious repercussions. The ability to quickly log an issue via the system which can raise the alarm to management is a great way of working collaboratively to prevent accidents.
How might a WMS support employers?
If an accident does occur, the ability to create a log of this within the warehouse management application will provide managers with clear reporting tools to show what may have caused the accident in the first place. If accidents become a regular occurrence, tracking this data can help management identify trends and take action to prevent further problems.
Warehouse management systems should keep a clear history of every task which has been allocated to an individual. This will range from standard warehousing tasks, such as picking and packing, through to non-standard tasks which may include repairs to equipment or changing the gas on a forklift truck which may carry a higher level of health and safety risk.
Health and safety training should be refreshed on a regular basis. Having a warehouse management system alert employers as to when an individuals training needs to be refreshed, is a powerful tool. This will ensure that management are maintaining their responsibility to provide a safe working environment for employees and associated training.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.