Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

Warehouse Communication — The Power of “Why”

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Mar 19, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Assuming that workers in your facility adhere to all safety practices may not be wise. In a fast-paced warehouse or distribution center, safety can be compromised if warehouse communication falls short. Just because you have protocols in place doesn’t mean workers fully understand it — or follow it.  rule-breaker-1892968_640

For example, your warehouse probably has signs that warn about pedestrian traffic, speed of forklift travel, and intersection danger. But does every driver always heed the warnings? Even skilled forklift operators may ignore safety communications if they lack urgency or if they don’t fully understand the importance.

Therefore, the risk of injuries and impacts increases exponentially when warehouse communication doesn’t fully explain, in a way everyone can understand, what is expected and why there is urgency to comply.

The need to understand the “why” behind warnings and rules

Communication is vital to warehouse safety. Psychological studies have shown that employees respond to warnings and safety protocols with greater diligence when they understand the reasons behind them. People want to know why.

Why explain “why”?

  • Workers will understand safety concerns, protocol, or rules better.
  • They'll consider it more important to follow rules.
  • They'll be more likely to comply.

What’s hurting your warehouse communications?

There are probably a few common issues that are hurting communication in your facility.

Here are a few to consider:

Language barriers

Many businesses have employees for whom English is a second language, and communications can be misinterpreted.

Operators need reminders, checklists, and best practices reinforced in a language they fully understand. While it’s possible to translate all literature for employees facing a language barrier, a large void in safety  still exists if telematic checklists aren’t accessible in other languages. Communication in a language that everyone can understand is key.

Poor understanding of expectations

Overseeing the safety of operators on the warehouse floor requires knowing when reckless behavior is occurring and effectively communicating these issues quickly.

Telematic operator report cards provide a complete view of an operator's compliance with safety standards, checklist completion, and overall performance on the warehouse floor.

This insight makes it easy to communicate with operators when they fail to meet expectations, providing documented talking points for clear communication about infractions.

Voids in lockout/tagout communication

Lockout/tagout systems save lives, preventing approximately 250,000 accidents, 50,000 injuries, and 120 fatalities annually. But you need a system in place that adequately communicates to workers when equipment is shut down for repairs.

Telematic lockout/tagout measures can alert employees when certain pieces of equipment are temporarily disabled or out of service.  The lift-truck won’t operate, and everyone is kept informed as to why.

Clear and open communications about potential risks and why rules are in place create a culture of safety in a warehouse facility. Workers must understand their role in protecting themselves and others and take ownership of safety regulations on the warehouse floor.

Topics: labor management, driver behavior, fleet drivers, injuries, loss avoidance, human error, safety improvements, operator behavior, limit risks, forklift operators