A tidy industrial workplace not only improves productivity but also safety, says Jim Roberts, product manager at visual communications specialist, Beaverswood.
The HSE reported that more 28 million working days were lost because of illness or non-fatal workplace accidents in 2018/19. Of these, slips, trips or falls on the same level accounted for 29% of days lost, while almost six million (20%) days were lost as a result as handling, lifting or carrying accidents. It’s expected that the next round of HSE figures will show an equally depressing picture of poor workplace safety and countless days lost to accidents, fuelled further by the busier nature of warehouses, logistic and transport hubs in the current pandemic.
This all reveals the enduring need for employers to improve levels of safety in the workplace and invest appropriately to keep people safe. And this is supported by legislation: The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 sets out the main provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of people at work, requiring ‘that employers and those who control workplaces to any extent, must identify the hazards in the workplaces under their control and assess the risks to safety and health at work presented by these hazards’.
Because we habitually spend so much of our time at work (current Covid restrictions notwithstanding), the workspace needs to a place where we can function to the best of our ability. Unhygienic, cluttered and messy environments only hinder this – for example, a cluttered factory floor can create a lack of focus, distracting people from the job at hand - while organised workplaces can be motivational, energising and engaging places, where people strive to be prosperous and productive.
The good news is there are simple steps that warehouses can take to improve the organisation and therefore, the productivity and safety of the work environment.
Encourage and participate in daily tidy ups
A daily clean up not only contributes to an efficient workplace but it’s also a beneficial way to start to the day. Removing clutter can help you create a blank canvas on which to begin anew. By having a tidy up before you even sit down to work, you can prevent the temptation to organise yourself half way through the day. If you start work with a neat, organised workspace, you’ll notice a huge boost in your productivity for the whole day.
Cut out the risk
As well as preventing your employees from getting sick, cleanliness can save lives. In the event of a fire, for example, you don’t want obstacles like boxes in corridors to slow down your employees as they leave the building. A tidy up can help you to keep on top of anything that might be an issue in the event of an emergency. For example, in a warehouse or storage area, keeping things tidy using solutions such as in-house bins and waste collection sacks, which also save floor space by hanging onto racking systems, contributes towards an efficient workplace while reducing trip and fire hazards.
No matter what type or size of company you are, a labelling system is good for business. Not only is legal compliance a massive benefit of better labelling, it can also drive efficiency savings, helping people locate products quicker and safer in stockrooms, warehouses and storage areas among other places. Indeed, while there’s no need to go overboard, the capacity to impart clear and unequivocal information to people working in any organisation can only be productive.
Invest in drawers and storage solutions
Papers and documents can start to mount up in offices. Investing in simple yet effective items such as document and shelf holders can signpost the way to a more organised workplace, preventing items taking up valuable workspace and helping people to locate things much quicker. Elsewhere, message markers, aisle and bay markers in industrial and storage spaces provide improved identification and location of items, again helping to keep things general tidier and workspaces open and more accessible.
Keep it clean
A clean environment is a morale booster for staff and reflects a well-run organisation encouraging people to keep things tidier as they work. You would be surprised at the extra space created and the missing equipment that can turn up when cleaning occurs – indeed, keeping people informed and tools accessible via visual aids and modular shadow boards facilitates better inter-departmental communications and inventory control.
Get your message across
Communication boards and stations help to convey important messages, especially in an environment where computer access maybe limited or information changes regularly or needs to be regularly updated. The use of wall, window, floor or cage mounted wallets offer effective tools to meet these requirements.
Segregate pedestrians and traffic
If your industrial workplace has got busier you might need to re-think the segregation of pedestrian and traffic. Additional vehicles and workers can contribute to bedlam in what was once a safe and productive working space. Simple measures like column protectors keep building structures safe, and barrier systems are an effective measure for separating pedestrians from vehicles in and outside of the workplace. Flexible bollards that are highly visible can help to prevent impacts, as well as serious damage should an impact occur.
One size doesn’t fit all
The one-size fits all approach doesn't always work in an environment where the balance between keeping things tidy and maintaining productivity is paramount; so tailor your decision-making to meet your specific needs. Consider your requirements in terms of quality, reliability and performance, and look at how your supplier can add value in facilitating your understanding of the role that visual communications solutions plays in a well organised workplace. More at www.beaverswood.co.uk