October is a busy month for a lot of people in the agriculture industry. Crops are being harvested, cotton is getting ginned, and trucks are hauling down the road. If this were a race, we would be starting to sprint to the finish line. For all this work to be completed, you have to have employees. In agriculture, seasonal or temporary labor is often times the only way a business can survive the sprint. Having seasonal or temporary labor does present new hazards. It is essential that proper training occurs. Even though the below article was written for the material handling and distribution industry, its four tips can apply to anybody.
FOUR TIPS TO KEEP SEASONAL WORKERS SAFE
With Thanksgiving behind us and the holiday season knocking at the door, it’s a busy time for the material handling industry. If you look at the news, there are stories about increased consumer spending for the holidays and the prevalence of e-commerce, which is good for business.
As companies in material handling and distribution continue to ramp up to meet holiday demands, many are looking to hire a temporary, seasonal workforce for the last few months of the year. A temporary workforce can be the key to successfully surviving the busy holiday season, but it’s important to remember these new employees do not have the background with your facility, and often are not trained to the extent as full-time employees.
Navigating the facility, picking and handling goods are just a couple of the tasks given to a temporary workforce. Just like full-time employees, these workers must stay safe during their time with your company.
Here are four quick things to do to make sure your temporary labor force stays safe throughout the busy holiday season:
Review Areas and Applications
While it’s likely your safety systems are already in place, review the areas in which your temporary employees will be working and proactively install safety devices in any areas in which they may be needed and make sure they are functioning properly. These safety devices should maintain a safe environment without heavily relying on employees to ensure the device is always in place and functioning.
Give Facility Tours
When you have a group of new material handling employees coming to work during the busy months of the year, it’s important to give them a tour of the facility, highlighting the areas in which they will be picking and depositing products. Make sure they understand their roles, as well as how to operate all of the equipment, including safety systems. Picking often requires working from upper levels, and because the employees are new to the facility, it’s important to make them aware of the ledges and safety structures that are used to prevent injuries and falls.
Clarify the Role of Technology
Humans are not the only ones working in a distribution center or warehouse - automated vehicles and robots are increasingly deployed in these facilities. It’s important to discuss the roles of the machines, including how and when they work, with temporary employees to ensure they understand and are aware of the machines. This can help prevent accidents and keep employees safe on the job.
Demonstrate Proper Use of Safety Equipment
While safety systems should be intuitive, they are often not used properly when the orders and picking activity increase. Because these jobs are often tiring and require repetitive motions throughout the day, it is important to show the temporary workers how to properly use each piece of safety equipment they will encounter. Be sure to highlight the machine guarding, noting it should stay in place, as well as any safety gate systems. Also discuss working on an elevated platform - make sure they know when to operate the safety gates, and when they can move about the ledge safely.
After the holiday rush, take some time to review potential new hazards, as sometimes new employees will uncover safety issues in your facility. Talk with employees and analyze data to determine what worked well, what did not and any areas, if any, that need to be secured moving forward. If you need expert advice after the review, consult a safety professional in the material handling industry.
“Four Tips to Keep Seasonal Workers Safe.” Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, https://mezzgate.com/index.php/news-resources/views/107-four-tips-to-keep-seasonal-workers-safe.