Emerging Risk: Mobile Equipment

Raising awareness and lowering movement risks

You may know SureWerx as a leading supplier of professional tool, personal protective equipment, safety apparel and fall arrest products across North America. Maintaining a safe work environment in a warehouse like SureWerx’s Coquitlam location, means making forklift safety a top priority.

Contact between forklifts and the racking system can cause injury to employees or damage to either the forklift or the racking.

In the SureWerx warehouse, a plate is installed at the bottom of each upright supporting the rack. This stops the forklift from creating any further damage to the racking or possibly tipping it over.

The forklifts also have specialized software that tracks any contact between a forklift and the racking. This provides information about potential racking or forklift repairs that might be needed and helps determine if the driver needs more training.

Another potential source for injuries is contact between pedestrians and mobile equipment. SureWerx’s Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) set out how pedestrians are made aware of forklifts whether when moving and lifting pallets onto the racking system or with order pickers moving product.

To mitigate this risk and keep everyone aware of the location of moving equipment, order pickers and forklifts have pedestrian warning lights that project 3 to 4.5 metres (10–15 feet) forward and a horn that sounds frequently. New employees are trained in appropriate routing through the warehouse and what the visual and auditory signals mean.

For SureWerx, maintaining a low incident rate requires both a constant review of SOPs and developing new ones when equipment is updated or replaced, when there is a change in process,
or when potential hazards are identified. Workers participate in creating or updating SOPs through SureWerx’s joint health and safety committee. Near misses are also always investigated with modified SOPs and training provided to all employees.

“We have to constantly look forward,” says Shab Dayan, Continuous Improvement Operations Manager at Surewerx.

“Manufacturers are constantly making technological, mechanical or design changes. We need to know the safety implication of each before new equipment is introduced to the workers so we can update the SOPs and ensure staff is properly trained. ”

When it comes to introducing new equipment, Shab has this advice: “Awareness, planning and listening are the keys to mitigating new risks. You need to know what’s coming, make a plan for how you will introduce and implement the change and listen when employees bring forward concerns about safety. It’s better to be proactive and preventive than have to deal with the consequence of an incident.”

A Manufacturing Safety Alliance advisor tours the distribution centre regularly and works with SureWerx Joint Health and Safety Committee to implement policies and procedures. Shab
says, “She has made really useful suggestions for our JHSC and showed us where we could make improvements to processes or protocols.”