Building a Safer and Better Warehouse: Creating a Brighter Workplace

Sarah Jessica Smith
Guest Contributor

The key to having a well-oiled machine for a warehouse is to listen to feedback from employees, follow the latest warehousing trends, and strive to continuously improve, as having an open mind and a positive attitude towards change is the only way you’ll keep ensuring all the factors of running a warehouse are fulfilled.

Warehousing is one of those industries we rarely think about. It is silent and growing in the shadows, while our lives seem completely unchanged by its existence. Still, were it to suddenly cease to exist, our lives would be greatly affected. Though the average person doesn’t think they benefit from the warehouse industry, most of their shopping experiences depend on the quality of the work a warehouse provides.

This is especially true today in the age of e-commerce emergence. We order so many things online without ever stopping to think where our items actually come from. In truth, they’re safe and tucked away on a shelf in a well-managed warehouse. Whatever business we’re talking about, if it plans on taking a crack at e-commerce and the delivery of in-store of purchases, it needs a safe and efficient warehouse to work with. Thus, to improve the working conditions and create a brighter workplace, you’ll need to pay attention to several facts.

Fact 1: Organization is key

The way you organize your warehouse will dictate how safe and efficient it is. The typical warehouse layout consists of an open space filled out with a number of high shelves. This has proven to be the most convenient method of storing inventory so far. Of course, it’s up to you how you arrange the shelves.

You can opt for the classic corridors or play with your design. The whole point is to come up with an efficient organizational system which you and your employees will benefit from. This way, they’ll be able to get to the items more quickly and fulfill orders in a matter of minutes.

You should also consider the way you store your items. For example, one part of the warehouse should only be reserved for bulk orders while the other should be home to individual orders. With e-commerce, you can expect an influx of individual smaller orders, and your warehouse layout must be prepared for that. After all, this is the only way to avoid chaos and ensure the whole operation stays efficient and safe.

Fact 2: Training is a must

No matter how well your warehouse is organized, accidents are still going to happen if you don’t train your crew. You can’t expect people to just know how to operate machinery and get around a warehouse. No matter how experienced someone is, every warehouse is unique.

Proper training at the beginning of your employees’ careers is necessary, but don’t be afraid to refine their skills after some time. As processes and equipment advance, people will need to work on themselves to be able to handle the tasks at hand.

Encourage your employees to ask for help and make sure they understand how important being safe in the workplace is. There’s no shame in learning and no room for goofing around.

Fact 3: State of the art equipment is necessary

Without proper materials handling equipment, you’ll be lost in the frenzy of orders and items. You can train your crew all you want, but they won’t be able to do much if you don’t provide them with the necessary tools.

There are several key operations in any warehouse, so you need to make sure you have all the needed equipment for each and every one of them. Those key operations are: storing, sorting, picking, and distributing. It would be ridiculous to expect your employees to carry out these tasks with their own two hands. Not only would it take too long, but it would also be incredibly unsafe.

Some brands think the old equipment they borrowed or bought ages ago is enough. The thing is, just like everything else, warehousing equipment is always evolving. As well as that, working with old and rusty pieces increases the risk of injury at work and doesn’t give your employees much opportunity to do their job well.

The primary focus should be on conveyor belts and forklifts. As well as that, don’t forget about trolleys and ladders. As your warehouse expands, you’ll need to think about better inventory options, as well.

Fact 4: More hands get more things done

Last but not least, safety is in numbers. In other words, you can’t expect two people to do a job best-suited for four people. Some employers think that this isn’t unreasonable as they have taken steps to train their employees and provide the needed equipment. Yet, work injuries are more likely to happen when too few people are handling a multiple person job.

If you’re only starting out, it’s okay to employ just a few people in the beginning. That being said, don’t neglect to expand your staff as your business grows. The original number of people won’t be able to keep up with the workload, leading them to be more careless, and increasing the risk of injury.

Warehouse operations are characterized by operating machines and lifting heavy items. Thus, physical injuries are far more likely to happen when you don’t have an adequate number of highly-trained people on the job.

Cutting costs with the number of employees will only benefit you in the short run. Those looking to stay in business for years to come need to think about expanding their team. As well as handling jobs properly, more employees will be able to keep each other safe. Someone will always have their eye out for someone else or notice something’s at fault, thus even preventing potential injuries.


If you’re in the warehousing industry or want to take your company to the next level, you need to start taking these practices seriously. Not only will your workers be safer, but they’ll also be more efficient and more motivated to work. The key to having a well-oiled machine for a warehouse is to listen to the feedback from your employees, follow the latest warehousing trends, and always strive to improve. Having an open mind and a positive attitude towards change is the only way you’ll keep ensuring that all the factors of running a warehouse are fulfilled.

About the writer: Sarah Jessica Smith is a young blogger from Sydney. She is in love with life and all the things that can make her daily routine easier. She loves to write about business, home improvement, lifestyle and all the small things that make life such a great adventure.

Join the #retail, #SmartStore & #ConnectedJourney conversations on Twitter @RetailNext, as well as