One of the important responsibilities of the storekeeper is to prevent accidents from taking place in stores. Accidents can cause damage to materials, machines or facilities and injury or death to men. The worst to happen is a fire accident where the entire premises can be completely gutted. It is necessary, therefore, that all precautions are taken to avoid accidents.
Some of the main causes of accidents in stores and some suggestions for avoiding them are given below:
1. Materials falling from racks
This is perhaps the most common occurrence and the most controllable. It arises mostly from carelessness by not keeping the materials in a balanced and safe manner on the racks. In can also arise from inadequacy of space in the racks i.e., the rack itself may not be designed properly. It can also be that the safety precautions on the rack itself are inadequate, e.g., there may be no guard on the sides of the rack to prevent goods from falling off.
2. Removal of Obstacles
Wires, unwanted ropes, steel rods or empty cartons kept carelessly on gangways can cause people to trip over them. Things should not lie around loose anywhere and this rule has to be enforced. Receptacles should be provided at various places to hold paper wrappings, empty cartons, or strings used to tie materials, etc.
3. Injury arising from lifting heavy loads, or normal loads unscientifically
It is necessary to provide the right type of mechanical aids to stores personnel for handling materials. In India, there is a false notion that labour is cheap and therefore, all work can be done by human hands without any machine or material handling equipment.
First, productivity will be low if material handling is done wholly by human hands. Second, accidents may arise when lifting heavy loads, causing injury to the worker and damaging the material. This type of accident takes place usually when placing loads on a high rack or when taking them down. A typical case is of a person attempting to climb up a ladder with a load on his head. In some cases, the ladder itself might give way and cause injuries.
Quite often the operator should know how to use the material handling equipment correctly and supervisors should ensure so. There is always a correct method of performing even the simplest of manual tasks. This holds good even for lifting a heavy weight. A wrong method can cause strain on one’s body resulting in injuries.
4. Collision with bins
This usually happens where aisle space is not adequate or the racks are not bolted securely, or even the bins jut out from the racks and so on. Such accidents usually happen when picking materials from the bins or placing materials in them.
5. Falling off while climbing to reach the upper shelves
Such accidents arise from having improper ladders or when men are not trained to climb ladders, carrying heavy weight.
6. Injury to hands arising from lifting or handling of materials without wearing protective gloves
In many cases, protective gloves are prescribed for handling materials to prevent injury to one’s hands while handling sharp-edged steel plates or chemicals, etc. People avoid wearing gloves mainly for two reasons — their palms sweat when they wear them causing some discomfort, the other reason is, of course, sheer laziness to wear them.
7. Slipping on oil, grease or even water spillages
Oil, water and grease spill on floor in spite of best precautions and care. It should be a standing rule that no sooner the spillage occurs then it should be wiped clean.
8. Injury caused by nails left on empty cases
This is one of the common causes of injury in all stores. Boxes, when opened, should immediately be kept in the place meant for them and all nails, steel bands, etc., should be removed to prevent injury to workers who might handle them.
9. Injury from corrosive acids
‘Warning labels’ indicating the nature of the material with a ‘Danger’ sign should be affixed to all containers holding such materials.
10. Dropping goods on one’s feet without protective boots
Where heavy materials are handled, it is important to provide protective boots.
Most of the accidents listed above are caused by not taking reasonable precautions, by carelessness and by indiscipline, especially in the matter of observance of standing instructions. Management should educate, encourage and advice workers to change their attitudes and give highest priority for good housekeeping.
A store resembling more like a slum with goods strewn around in a haphazard manner is no place to work and workers morale and efficiency are likely to be low in such a work environment.