Unemployment has dropped to below 5%, with positive employment figures showing that the economy added more than 230,000 new jobs in February. Yet, there has been much debate and concern over the state of industries – so how come? It’s not just here in the US either, over in the UK the unemployment is an identical rate of 4.7%.
Yet we do need to realize that the face of employment has shifted massively. The job providing locations today aren’t so much factories but warehouses. These humble structures sit at the side of every freeway in every city – an unfussy and unpretty addition to the landscape. And yet they cater for our consumer driven economy, helping to ensure goods can be delivered in our click-happy 24/7 society. How do you think Amazon gets you those parcels so quickly? The key lies within those fulfillment centers.
With warehouses playing such a big role these days, more focus should fall on how they operate. In the old days, wielding a blow torch or handling a toxic chemical was rightly seen as dangerous – and still is – but do we recognize the dangers in these vast, hidden caverns in which so much of our workforce now gathers to earn its corn?
We might not consider it, but the underfoot conditions for this army of warehouse workers poses a big risk in many ways. Unlike the heavily industrial workplaces of the rust belt and beyond, it should be easier to safeguard this with a little attention, however…
They’re busy, making slips and trips likely
One of the reasons that warehouses can be dangerous is because they’re so busy. If you ever were to take a peek under the shutters, you’d see a hive of activity, with forklift trucks, heavy pallets and lots of people. In some cases, there’s even industrial equipment to prepare products before they go on to the next stage of their journey. With all of that going on, conditions underfoot have to be safe. Wires and cables, pools of liquid or uneven surfaces can be a huge issue in this environment.
Slips and trips in such an environment can leave businesses with a big issue. Not least when it comes to the human cost of injuries among their workforce. No-one wants their star employee to be laid low with a broken leg, for example, and the worst accidents could even be fatal. Safety is a serious business, and firms need to treat it as such.
…and stock cost too
On top of the human cost, a lack of safety can harm profits too. With heavy and costly boxes, parcels and packets passed around, a slip or trip on a dangerous surface could cost a business thousands of dollars in one go – all for a lack of simple maintenance.
Maintenance is key
Maintenance in the warehouse is straightforward. It largely boils down to a few small, but significant, steps:
- A proper cleaning regime
- A robust safety policy in which hazards are reported and dealt with
- Effective staff training (with refresher sessions where appropriate)
- Anti-slip coating on the floor of a warehouse
- Clear demarcation of the floor space with paint and signage
- Smart management to use space efficiently
With these six small steps the human and stock costs of trips and falls in the warehouse can be greatly reduced. It’s a very small ask given the rising importance of this sector in the modern economy.