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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Warehouse safety and traffic management planning

Maralyn Kastel - Saturday, February 15, 2014

Warehouses can be very busy places when new stock arrives, other items are being made ready for an order, and rotating stock to maintain quality. This normally involves forklift/s, delivery trucks, pick & reach equipment, trolley stackers and people movement within the warehouse. 

Typical activities include:

  • receiving goods from manufacturers, importers and suppliers
  • transferring the goods onto pallets for storage
  • storing the goods in appropriate conditions (e. freezers, cold areas, silos or racking)
  • responding to customer orders by picking products from warehouse shelves and preparing them for transportation (eg placing them on pallets or wrapping them)
  • loading orders onto vehicles for transport to the customer.

Unfortunately visibility in many warehouses is often less than optimum because of “grey walls, floor and pallet racking. A pedestrian whether a worker or a visitor can easily go unnoticed if they are not expected to be present or if they are outside any dedicated walkways.

Forklifts are most often involved in serious warehouse incidents and accident fatalities because of time pressures, carrying heavy loads, unloading, loading and the need to turn quickly or reverse, to reach their final destination.

The types of goods that are kept within a warehouse will often determine the specific layout and setup of the warehouse. Some goods may need to be kept on pallets. Others require storage in freezers and cold areas. The type of goods stored, also determine the type of vehicle traffic.

Whilst it is almost impossible to remove traffic from a warehouse, it is possible to create a traffic management plan that eliminates or at least reduces the potential of collisions between traffic and pedestrians.

Develop a warehouse safety plan

Some of the key issues to consider in your warehouse are:

  • pedestrian safety
  • pedestrians working with vehicles such as trucks and vans and powered mobile plant such as forklifts
  • the use of powered load-shifting equipment
  • the layout of the work area
  • signs, warning devices and visibility

One of the main hazards is pedestrians being in the wrong place or vehicles not knowing the proper traffic/site safety rules.

Make sure you conduct toolbox talks with your workers on a regular basic so that they are aware of traffic safety requirements within the warehouse. Include such safety measures as:

  • designated walkways and safety zones for pedestrians
  • display site maps showing proper traffic flow for pedestrians and vehicles
  • bollards and safety railings
  • proximity alarms
  • warning and speed limit signs
  • separate pedestrian entry and exit
  • convex mirrors to reduce “blind spots”
  • right of way procedures
  • enforcing speed limits
  • all workers wearing high visibility vests

Many of the safety measures above will be determined by the amount of vehicle traffic and pedestrian traffic within the warehouse.

Contact us if you are interested in having us evaluate your warehouse and helping you create a safe environment for both your employees as well as your merchandise.

Related Toolbox Talks

  • Forklift - General safety tips
  • Forklift - Getting on and off safely
  • Forklift - Reduce the risks of tipping
  • Forklift - Parking safely
  • Forklift - Pedestrian operated
  • Plant - Getting on and off safely


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