Onboarding new hires in industrial workplaces must go beyond basic orientation to provide comprehensive warehouse safety training from the start. A warehouse safety training program should address all areas of the job, from compliance training to forklift safety and use of hazard controls. Providing employees multiple opportunities to grasp the information through formal warehouse health and safety courses, visual training methods, and on-the-job practice is key to helping concepts stick. Explore these tips and requirements for pairing onboarding training with visual cues throughout the facility to communicate safety concepts.
1. Safety Compliance Education
Following OSHA’s requirements for training new hires in industrial workplaces is the first step in a successful safety compliance program. Onboarding manufacturing employees, forklift operators, order pickers and packers, material handlers, machinists, and management may require various specialized courses, but all positions should understand how to stay safe on the job and how to recognize and avoid potential hazards.
OSHA identifies six of the most common causes of employee injuries as:
- Unsafe forklift operation
- Improper stacking and storage
- Inadequate personal protective equipment
- Failure to follow lockout-tagout procedures
- Lacking fire safety provisions
- Repetitive motion and physical injuries
Focus your onboarding efforts to address all of these potential hazards, in addition to any specialzed training required to suit each role, to create a well-rounded safety program for your warehouse.
2. Visual Communication Training
Learning to recognize the visual cues and messages used throughout a facility is an important part of the manufacturing onboarding process for new hires. These cues show hazardous areas and safety zones, plus provide valuable facility information. Because memorizing every visual aid in a facility won’t happen during a single warehouse safety course, installing 5S safety school kits can help support training when employees move from onboarding to on-site. These kits can be customized to display any visual cues or floor markings used in your facility, including warning signs, color-coding schemes, and navigational cues. Keeping these kits in highly visible areas can help to provide constant reminders and keep safety requirements top-of-mind long after onboarding and orientation are finished.
3. Forklift Safety Instruction
Operator training and certification is required for all forklift drivers per OSHA standards. If you choose to provide this certification on-site, designating a forklift training area allows new hires to get practice in a realistic environment. You may choose to include markings that match what’s on the production floor for location-specific training, or more generic floor markings can help support training methods if your location serves as a training hub for employees from other locations. If you need to move, repair, or change the training site, our floor tape and signs peel off easily without leaving behind damage or residue.
Manufacturing and warehouse safety training should also educate those who do not operate machines to use caution around heavy equipment and industrial vehicles. Even after safety training, your safety school kit can highlight visual cues used for forklift safety for better awareness of accident prevention and traffic control markings throughout the facility. Training staff to be aware of powered industrial trucks’ turn radiuses, stopping limitations, horns or alarms, and safety clearances also helps anyone interacting in mixed-traffic areas to be appropriately cautious.
4. Chemical Hazard Communication Training
Training for proper hazard communication is required by OSHA, and this includes using visual cues to avoid GHS and SDS violations. Set aside time in your safety course to educate employees on compliance requirements for chemical handling and hazards. Include details on how to recognize GHS-SDS symbols throughout your facility and provide clear instructions for where to find and how to use SDS binders, labels, and chemical safety supplies. Our GHS training kits are available in English and Spanish to facilitate bilingual training as well.
5. Hazard Control Protocols
Part of industrial risk management and prevention is knowing which hazard controls are appropriate safety measures for specific locations. Tour the facility with new hires to examine hazard controls in use; this could include engineering controls like blade guards on assembly equipment; PPE, like wearing gloves or goggles: or administrative controls, such as safety labels applied to assembly equipment. Remind everyone to be aware of visual cues for personal protective equipment, Lockout/Tagout procedures and standards, and other posted signage noting control areas and restrictions and to ensure hazard controls are observed and implemented consistently throughout the facility.
6. Emergency Preparedness
Regardless of position or title, each employee’s onboarding training should prepare them for worst-case scenarios. During emergency preparedness training, ensure the written instructions, verbal explanations, and drills allow all employees ample direction regarding how to evacuate or administer aid. During a walk-through of the facility or warehouse, point out safety equipment and the floor markers and tape in place for emergency evacuations—seeing the visual cues in person helps everyone remember what they’re learning during orientation. Support safety preparedness programs by clearly marking fire safety equipment, medical aid stations, and evacuation routes with floor marking kits and floor signs that help keep these locations visible and accessible, allowing employees to apply their training in the event of an emergency.
7. On-the-Job Safety Training
Skills-based training is essential for teaching both entry-level and experienced employees specific tasks and functions of their warehouse or manufacturing jobs, and it is also key to building safe work habits. Warehouse safety training should address the risks of day-to-day operations, from pinch point injuries to the ergonomics of safe lifting, as well as the dangers of non-routine tasks.
Rather than implementing the principles of Lean and 5S solely for production and efficiency, expand 5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain) to 6S, to include Safety. Introduce new hires to these methods on day one so these practices become second-nature. When everyone contributes to a clean, orderly production floor or warehouse, accidents and injuries due to clutter and disorganization are less likely.
Training shouldn’t end after day one for new hires—building a manufacturing safety culture is an ongoing process. Continue to reinforce warehouse and manufacturing training well after onboarding is complete with our visual cues for safety, navigation, and workplace organization. For more ideas to improve safety in industrial environments, visit our Resource Center.