If you manage a warehouse, you know how tedious audits can be.
You’ll need to inspect the entire facility for safety issues, check inventory, examine current productivity, and develop strategies to improve.
It’s an overwhelming process, and one that is easy to procrastinate. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. If you know a few basic principles behind the audit process, you can quickly and easily get the job done.
What Is a Warehouse Audit?
An audit is a great way to keep track of how things are done in a warehouse. It is a method to document how safely procedures and equipment are handled. Establishing a general audit checklist can make checking the warehouse fast and easy.
The results will be improved safety, maximized efficiency, and peace of mind for business owners. An audit is a thorough inspection of the warehouse to ensure that it is as safe and productive as possible.
The best way to carry out a safety audit is to walk through your warehouse with a checklist and mark everything that may need more attention to detail. This is a great way to prepare for the audit. OSHA mandates that every warehouse must complete a safety checklist to avoid any issues with the law.
Why Should You Do an Audit Now?
It seems easy to put off doing an audit, but you need to take action as soon as possible. There are a number of benefits to conducting an audit without delay.
Prevent potential harm: In the process of an audit, you may find out if there are any problems lurking behind the scenes that can lead to accidents, possibly even fatal. The sooner risks are identified and addressed, the better it is for you, your business, and most importantly, your workforce.
Material Handling Exchange, a company specializing in pallet racks, found that a large number of work related injuries took place in 2013 throughout warehouse operations in the United States. Challenges to safety can be avoided by completing safety audits.
It’s the Law: There are different laws and regulations to ensure warehouse safety. OSHA safety regulations are the most stringent, and if you are not abiding by them, you are likely to get your business into trouble with the authorities and risk being shut down. It is in the company’s best interest to follow the law both for the benefit of workers and the business itself.
Save money: A safety audit provides you with facts. You can easily use this information to setup interventions and make needed changes.
Addressing the results of your safety audit can save you lots of money that would otherwise be spent on second guesses and cut down on worker’s comp. It’s also a good opportunity to turn business needs into temporary staffing positions so that you can save money upfront to get things up and running smoothly.
Credentials: If you want to get customers or tap into new business opportunities, you will realize that most people are looking for someone that has proper safety and efficiency procedures already in place.
Having a successful track record helps with warehouse job staffing too. This will also help you to cultivate positive public relations to achieve your business goals.
Being safe is one way you can stand out from the crowd and attract more business.
Being on good terms with authorities is not the only reason why warehouses go to great lengths to have safety and productivity procedures in place.
Step 1: Examine the Warehouse and Identify Areas for Improvement
Workplace inspections help to prevent accidents, injuries, and illnesses. A thorough warehouse examination can help to identify and record potential risks for corrective action.
Some companies have health and safety committees that help to plan, conduct and monitor inspections, as well as groups charged with improving efficiency.
Regular workplace inspections are good for the overall safety and productivity of the workers and the warehouse. When auditors take a tour of any warehouse, the first thing they do is to inspect the general work environment. This would be a quick and complete overview of what needs to be sorted out.
Some common areas such as parking lots, break rooms, storage areas, and bathrooms need to be checked for any potential risk or improvement. Here are some of the hazards to look for in a workplace:
- Biological hazards such as those caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, or other organisms.
- Safety hazards such as those caused by unsafe workplace conditions or unsafe work practices as a result of improper machine guards.
- Psychological hazards that affect mental health and wellbeing of workers leading to stress, violence, and depression.
- Physical hazards caused by energy, heat, vibration, cold, noise, electricity, or radiation.
- Chemical hazards caused by vapor, gas, liquid, and mist.
- Ergonomic hazards caused by both psychological and physiological demands on the workers such as forceful body movements, poorly designed workstations, being in one awkward posture for a long time, or complications with tools and equipment.
Before conducting an inspection, you need to know a few details:
- Equipment inventory: Know all the machinery and equipment that your warehouse has. Read all the work area records to understand hazards associated with each piece of equipment.
- Diagram of the area: Draw a diagram that divides the workplace into locations for equipment, machinery, and materials. This will help to know the movements of workers in the warehouse, alarms and fire exits.
- Chemical inventory: Determine the chemicals used in the warehouse. Find out if there are any sources of exposure and control them. Make sure your staff members are well trained on how to use and handle the chemicals.
Step 2: Review Current Safety Measures to Find Gaps
The best way to identify gaps in your safety measures is to compare what is in place with OSHA’s safety rules and expectations at the warehouse. Look at the current workplace conditions to find areas that need improvement with regards to compliance and traditional OSHA safety standards or international practices.
Making a chart of the findings on strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement that can lead to a safer work environment for everyone. It can be very effective to make a roadmap through a systematic process to find and overcome gaps that you have identified.
Step 3: Develop Systems and Processes to Address Gaps
Acting on the findings is the key to making your warehouse safety audit a success. Good management efforts will implement changes to get the best results. Develop an action plan that lists all areas that need to be addressed.
This will also ensure the next audit goes smoothly. Clearly label all hazardous items or areas in the warehouse and mark out safe walkways for workers. Remind your staff to wear appropriate safety wear too.
Also, it’s a good idea to inform visitors of any potential risks in the warehouse. You can do this easily by getting the appropriate safety signs that are unique to your warehouse’s facility.
Step 4: Do More Than What Is Necessary
You need to go beyond the bare minimum if you want to ensure the highest standards of safety at your warehouse. There are some requirements to be met that can protect your workers from injury.
- Make sure your forklift operators are well-trained to avoid accidents. Designate special traffic lanes to get the best results for safety and efficiency.
- Ensure there is brighter lighting in your warehouse to make the work environment safer and improve your staff’s ability to do their job. Brighter lighting also increases alertness at work.
- Reorganize: What works for your warehouse now might not work a year from now. That is why you need to continually reorganize storage methods for the highest safety standards.
- Quality control: Regardless of the size of your warehouse, picking orders is the most significant cost of any warehouse. Well-organized warehouses save critical time used in organizing pick lists.
- Arrange lists to enable staff to move from one location to another without going back and forth. You can also organize lists for groups then divide the materials based on customer orders.
Step 5: Hire Extra Help to Implement Necessary Changes
Implementing some changes in your warehouse might require an increase in staff. For instance, removing barriers and keeping pathways for workers might require some more people on hand.
Cleaning the warehouse is also an important exercise in keeping it safe for everyone. Some items might also require specialized equipment in preparation for chemical or oil spills. You need to train staff that will immediately clean or repair the area in the shortest time possible.
Make sure that your team has relevant accessories to protect them from injuries, such as hard hats, gloves, and goggles.
Most warehouse HR officers spend much of their time looking for workers. At Wonolo, we make it easy to find warehouse workers quickly.
Here are some tips to get qualified warehouse workers through our platform:
- Craft a detailed job posting
- Be honest about how intensive the job is
- Make sure your pay is at or above market rate
- Encourage referrals from other workers
Conducting a warehouse audit is a great way to stay prepared. It can help you identify areas of weakness before they are a problem in the workplace. Hiring additional workers to help with the process will save you countless hours.
Getting Ready to Conduct a Warehouse Audit
As you now know, auditing your warehouse doesn’t need to be a lengthy, involved process.
Instead, you can accomplish it in relatively little time using a defined process and on-demand workers to help.
You’ll need to examine the warehouse for any issues and check inventory, reviewing safety measures and productivity as you go.
You’ll then review those findings and develop systems to improve them. And remember, it’s always a good idea to go above and beyond.
Finally, use a high-quality platform for hiring additional workers to help with the process. Not only will extra workers speed up the audit, they’ll keep your efficiency high by ensuring your current staff will remain productive.
Ready to get started?