Almost every manufacturing site will need to store materials. The infrastructural requirements for safe storage could differ depending on the technical properties of the materials. Other factors that can affect the storage processes are the weight and quantity of the material and the frequency of which they need to be accessed in day-to-day operations.
Existing warehouse layouts can also influence the type of storage requirements required.
Tips to store material safely in a warehouse
- Avoid areas and congestion points. There is also a need to implement measures to facilitate the location and control of stored quantities (situation maps of products, labels, labeling, etc.). Use maintenance equipment (manual forklifts and lifts, pallets, manual stackers, etc.) most suitable for the type of warehouse.
- Ensure that the quantity of materials stored in the workplace is as minimal as possible. This is achieved by reviewing production processes and establishing efficient agreements with suppliers and distributors. Both efficiency and safety improve by minimizing the number of different types and amounts of materials stored.
- Follow ergonomic and safety criteria in the design of warehouses. Layout planners have to efficiently take advantage of the space available to store the materials. The design should facilitate access to the stored product and have the materials pass through as few touchpoints as possible. Many accidents or health problems that workers suffer while doing put-away related tasks are due to poor layout conception and maintenance of spaces.
- Keep the storage enclosures tidy. This means establishing clear criteria (weight, size, etc.) that make it easier to store and retrieve the goods. For example: place the heaviest material on the lower shelves, the most frequently accessed for consumption, in the middle, and the least used, in the highest areas.
- Avoid storing boxes stacked on top of each other. This is especially if there is no structure against which the stacks can rest. When the load becomes unstable, the potential for the material to fall increases. This can result in fatal or serious accidents. Boxes can also be stored against the wall if necessary. But the warehouse operator must always check the stability of the stacking and height limits.
- Store boxes and drums on shelves. This allows for better use of space and increased safety in storage work (facilitate maintenance tasks, avoid bumps, load drops, etc.). It is recommended to use standardized shelves as far as possible.
- Store unpacked rigid objects in safe and rugged containers. Linear rigid materials must be properly stored and fastened with supports that facilitate the stability of the assembly, while rounded tubes or materials should be stacked in separate layers by intermediate supports and fasteners. This will prevent their displacement or detachment (shelves or vats arranged for this purpose).
- Rigorously control the structural strength of the shelves. This should be done based on maximum load and other foreseeable factors such as possible accidental impacts.
- Ensure the stability of the shelf structure by attaching them to rigid structural elements. One such example would be load walls. Seek to place the heaviest materials on the bottom of the shelves and it should be strictly forbidden to climb above them.
- Lift the lowest level of the shelves. This is so that loads are stored at a height that does not require the picker to crouch.
- Ensure that suppliers deliver products in stable boxes with handles. This is especially for products that are extremely heavy. Often, people who do storage work have difficulty handling because packages do not have gripping systems, so workers end up adopting uncomfortable postures when handling them.
- Provide training and knowledge on the safe methods of handling the material and the correct way to use the available mechanical equipment. In addition, we must know the specific occupational risks that may arise depending on the structural characteristics of the warehouse and the security conditions of the enclosure (order, spaces, signage, etc.).
- Carry out preventive maintenance of the facilities, work equipment, and elements used in maintenance operations (shelves, boxes, containers, pallets, etc.). The lifespan of a pallet is about five years, but it can be reduced depending on the material or treatment received. Those who are nearing the end of use should be discarded, in order to avoid risks and transfer them to other users.
- Metal profiles and plates of considerable weight and size should be stored on shelves equipped with rollers. These rollers should be designed with a slight inclination to the inside, to avoid uncontrolled movements and to facilitate its handling when not carried out by mechanical means.
- Use straps when necessary. It is generally a good idea to strap down palletized materials if easily carried by wind or unbalanced on slight impact.
- Keep the floor of the warehouses clean to avoid accidental slips or falls. The flooring must be firm, resistant to abrasion, resistant to slip when wet due to common liquids like water and oils.
- The warehouse should have good lighting and ventilation. Lighting should reach even the corners of the warehouse or areas blocked by shelving.
- Ensure that necessary spaces are reserved for maintenance operations. Keep the hallways clear and never leave articles that stick out from the shelves. Out of gauge items should be placed in a specially designated area.
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