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Warehouse Safety Audit: Checklist & Tips

by Jerry Gorham on December 12, 2017
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Warehouse Safety Audit TipsCal/OSHA requires every employer “to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for employees .” Proof of this commitment includes periodic inspections:

...identifying existing or potential hazards in the workplace, and eliminating or controlling them. The frequency of these inspections depends on the operations involved, the magnitude of the hazards, the proficiency of employees, changes in equipment or work processes, and the history of workplace injuries and illnesses.

According to OSHA, the fatal injury rate for warehousing employees is higher than the national average for all industries. In today’s post, we’ll share our tips for conducting a warehouse safety audit - including the top hazards for warehouse workers and creating a warehouse safety checklist.

Accidents Cost Money and Hurt Your Business Reputation
In addition to the cost of rehabilitating an injured employee and/or repairing equipment, accidents generate significant indirect costs such as higher insurance rates and reduced morale. Most operations also experience a decline in productivity because resources must be reallocated to cover for an absent staff member or equipment out for repair. A thorough warehouse safety audit is a proven way to lower the number of costly accidents.

The top 10 most-cited OSHA violations (see below) are a good starting place for your warehouse safety checklist. Also, ask employees if they have any health or safety concerns. During the discussion, you may also uncover warehouse safety topics where your staff may benefit from additional training. Be sure to thoroughly document your activities including issues were identified and how and when these concerns were addressed by management.

OSHA’s Top 10 Most-Cited Warehouse Safety Violations

1. Unsafe Use of Forklifts
2. Hazard Communication (employee education on risks, clear protocol for disposing of hazardous material)
3. Electrical Wiring (electrical hazards must be controlled or eliminated)
4. Electrical System Design (ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for receptacle outlets, adequate ventilation and fire extinguishers at charging stations.
5. Fall Hazards
6. Blocked or Unclear Emergency Exits
7. Conveyors and Mechanical Power Transmission (block pinch points, lockout conveyors in need of maintenance
8. Failure to use PPE Equipment (specifically respiratory protection)
9. Failure to Follow Proper Lockout/Tagout Procedures
10. Inadequate Fire Safety Provisions (not having enough fire extinguishers/fire extinguishers not in working condition)

In addition to the items above, consider what new procedures, pieces of equipment, or hazardous materials have been introduced to your facility since the last safety audit. Areas to consider include:

Equipment - Is each piece of equipment properly maintained according to manufacturer recommendations? Do you have an established inspection schedule?

Hazardous Materials - Identify what chemicals, fuel, or other hazardous material exist in your facility. Ensure staff have PPE equipment, are trained how to use it and understand how to avoid risks.

Cal/OSHA Standards - Most warehouses follow the Title 8, California Code of Regulations, General Industry Safety Orders. Construction, mining, petroleum, and tunneling have additional, industry-specific standards.

In the Event of an Emergency- All staff members should know what to do in the event of a fire, medical emergency and/or weather-related situation.

For a truly comprehensive audit, use the Cal/OSHA Guide to Developing Your Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Program with checklists for self-inspection.

Creating a warehouse safety checklists and conducting regular audits demonstrates your business is committed to a safe work environment. Additionally, Cal/OSHA looks for:

  • Accident and illness prevention goals such as: 10% fewer injuries next year, and reduce down-time due to poorly maintained equipment.
  • A method for employees to report unsafe conditions with assurance that management will take action- such as an anonymous safety suggestion box is one option.
  • Demonstrated allocation of company resources to identify and control hazards. This includes: purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), training employees in safety and health, and periodically reviewing new and existing operations and processes for potential hazards.
  • Repercussions for team members who do not follow warehouse safety rules.

Forklift Safety Checklists - Free Download
You can download free forklift daily safety checklists developed by our materials handling team. Our checklists are available in English and Español and include:
Electric Truck Daily Checklist
Narrow Aisle Lift Truck Checklist
Low Lift Pallet Truck Checklist
Internal Combustion Lift Truck Checklist

Let us know if you have questions about OSHA or Cal/OSHA safety regulations. You can contact us online or by phone.

San Francisco Bay - Livermore (510) 675-0500
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091

Further Reading
Loading Dock Safety - 3 Essential Tips 
Top 7 Causes of Warehouse Accidents and How to Prevent Them 
Cal/OSHA Electrical Safety Guidelines (PDF)
The Simple Way to Prevent Warehouse Slip Trip and Fall Injuries

Forklift Certification in California

unsplash-logoIgor Ovsyannykov

Topics: Safety, Forklift Safety, Warehouse Safety

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