Posted by Thelma Marshall, Director, Product, Jan. 21, 2020

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Effective communication is not a new challenge for warehouse enterprises. Statistically, hazard communication has ranked in the top two most cited OSHA violations for six consecutive years.

You probably understand why this challenge keeps occurring, but knowing what to do to address it and its impact on warehouse safety is not simple. Unfortunately, just complying with OSHA’s regulations is only the first step you should take.

Communication gaps

So, what’s holding everyone back from better, faster, effective communication? Well, just the amount of paperwork required to keep an organization abreast of all safety parameters can be overwhelming. The good news is that communication can be more effective than ever before, thanks to cloud technology and smarter warehouse management systems.

There are probably a few common issues that are the enemy of good communication in your facility. 

1. Language barriers 

Many businesses have employees for whom English is a second language, and communications can be misinterpreted.  

Operators need reminders, checklists, and best practices reinforced in a language they fully understand. While it’s possible to translate all literature for employees facing a language barrier, a large void in safety  still exists if telematic checklists aren’t accessible in other languages. Communication in a language that everyone can understand is key.   

2. Voids in lockout/tagout communication 

Lockout/tagout systems save lives, preventing approximately 250,000 accidents, 50,000 injuries, and 120 fatalities annually. But you need a system in place that adequately communicates to workers when equipment is shut down for repairs. 

Telematic lockout/tagout measures can alert employees when certain pieces of equipment are temporarily disabled or out of service.  The lift-truck won’t operate, and everyone is kept informed as to why. 

3. Poor understanding of protocol or directions 

Telematic operator report cards deliver a complete view of an operator’s compliance with safety standards, checklist completion, and job performance. This provides documented talking points for clear communication about infractions.

The cost of an OSHA violation
If increased risk of accidents and injuries is not enough to motivate changes to communication strategies, the fact that OSHA has raised its penalties by nearly 2 % for 2020, should be.

OSHA’s penalty increases for workplace safety and health violations include:

  • For a willful violation, in which an employer knowingly failed to comply with an OSHA standard or demonstrated a plain indifference for employee safety, the minimum penalty increases from $9,472 to $9,639 and the maximum penalty increases from $132,598 to $134,937;
  • For each repeated violation or a similar violation previously cited, the maximum penalty rises from $132,598 to $134,937;
  • For each serious violation for workplace hazards that could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494;

A vital component of a safe manufacturing or warehouse facility is clear and consistent communication among all employees and equipment monitoring systems. Fast, effective communication using a telematics system can continuously inform everyone of potential risks in a warehouse facility, preventing costly OSHA violations and accidents.

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