When planning out warehouse space, one should plan out the traffic management for both workers and vehicles. This plan should be a priority when looking from a health and safety point of view.
Means of transportation are a common sight in warehouses, starting from forklifts, pallet stackers, trucks that bring in/out goods and others. These vehicles are vital for warehouse operations to function in a highly efficient manner. This is the reason why the design of such workspace should include traffic management.
Below are some tips to help in smoothing the flow of these operations:
Identify Potential Hazards
Any traffic management plan needs to take into consideration the potential dangers encountered whilst driving or walking through the warehouse such as; obstructions on the floor, blind spots and busy intersections to name a few. A risk assessment is vital in achieving the best plan to work efficiently, while reassuring accidents are prevented.
Training & Procedures
Additional to any measure you take, every person who enters your facility must understand your traffic management plan. They should be aware of designated safe routes, no-go zones and speed limits. The simplest way to do this is running an induction process.
This goes to all the visitors entering the premises. Apart from that, one should also provide a supervisor to ensure their safety and protection when going around the warehouse.
Layout Floor Markings & Signage
A warehouse space requires clear line-markings/warning tapes to show pedestrians walkways, roadways, operating areas, speed limits and stopping distances among others. Blind spots need to be equipped with mirrors to avoid collisions. Signs need to be installed to remind, drivers and operators, of things they already know.
Enforced Safe Speeds
Just like other vehicles travelling on the highway, maintaining a safe speed is critical to prevent accidents. The OHSA does not have specific speed limits set for the safe operation of a powered industrial truck, but they give several factors one should take into consideration for evaluating and determining a safe speed. Safe speeds may vary from one warehouse space to another depending on the layout and type of work operations.
N.B. - Even a forklift travelling very slow speed can crush or severely injure someone
One of the fastest ways to help reduce traffic snarls in the warehouse is to create specific pedestrian zones for foot traffic. Ideally, these areas will be narrower paths off to the side that vehicles cannot enter, but if this is not the case, then proper signage and arranging of your pallet racking should create a safer area for pedestrians.
Should pedestrians need to cross vehicle routes at your warehouse, you need to think about barriers. These should be used not just to stop traffic but also to remind pedestrians of entrances and exits when moving through the warehouse.
The appropriate time to work on your warehouse traffic management plan is sooner rather than later. By the time an employee is injured, or an accident has occurred, it’s too late.
Even after all the planning and design with the right precautions in mind is done, one should keep an eye to continuously improve the plan.