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Warehouse safety success story #1: Coca-Cola Refreshments

Mar 15, 2017

coca-colaHow to move, store and ship products safely and efficiently drew a sold-out audience to WSPS' warehouse safety conference, held February 22 at the Centre for Health & Safety Innovation in Mississauga. One of the highlights was a panel of three industry members discussing their health and safety priorities and solutions.

In this first of a 3-part report on the panel session, David Roberts, national manager of safety for Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada, shares his insights. Coca-Cola operates in all 10 provinces and employs 6,300 people in 66 facilities. Here's what David told attendees.

Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada's top 3 safety opportunities for 2016

Our first safety priority involved improving separations and hazard controls for pedestrians and powered industrial trucks. The best possible approach is to separate via hard barrier but this may be challenging to implement across all intersections and in product pick areas. Our warehouse configurations have changed over the years, hence we review our traffic route risk assessment at least annually to ensure the correct floor markings, signage, lighting systems, rights of way, and barriers remain effective.

Our second priority is the external facility layout for the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles. We assessed controls using a combination of physical measures including additional barriers, road markings, walkways and signage, with a goal to not only improve safety but to also improve work efficiency.

Our third priority is dock safety compliance, ensuring adequate arrangements for safe loading and unloading operations.

Identifying solutions

A project team was formed, engaging employees in solution identification, while partnering with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services in the updating of our risk assessment. Having this impartial review was of enormous benefit. WSPS consultants were flexible and professional in meeting our project objectives.

Employee engagement was of primary importance. Solutions for many safety concerns can often be realized through the effective collaboration with those who do the work every day. To make the process interactive, assist with knowledge transfer and change, one of the proposed solutions involved signing rights-of-way with highway names. Our employees also contributed to an in-house video, targeting safe loading and unloading practices. Administratively, we affirmed our cell-phone prohibitions, which have evolved as a literal extension of family.* A lack of an effective media device policy or arrangements for enforcement can have severe consequences in a complex work environment.

Coca-Cola utilizes a combination of methods for loading and unloading, including lighting systems, restraints, wheel and power chocks.

Knowing that a large number of pedestrian incidents are preventable just from people "seeing" a forklift, additional hazard controls included the use of blue light spotlights on the front and rear of forklifts. The device casts an intense blue light on the ground for people to see from a distance and to know a forklift is in their path. Externally of the warehouse, we require the use of trailer jack stands to address the risk of trailer leg collapse and trailer tips.

Ergonomically, we introduced wheel chocks with a long black and yellow handle to reduce the risk of strains and sprains, as well as assist with compliance auditing. The chocks are no longer swept away by snow clearance activity as the long handle is easily seen in snow conditions.

A "visual dock safety system" conceptualized by a supervisor, which involves a reflective stop-sign permanently attached to a “glad hand lock”, was implemented. The “lock/sign” hangs on the inside of a dock door prior to the commencement of loading operations and when installed, locks out the air intake valve of a trailer’s emergency brake system.

Watch for success stories from The Home Depot and Ingredion Canada Corporation in upcoming issues of WSPS eNews.

How WSPS can help you improve your warehouse safety

Check out our extensive warehouse safety offerings, including training courses, on-site consultations, free downloads, articles and these two downloadable videos:

Attend these two sessions at Partners in Prevention 2017 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, May 2-3 in Mississauga:

  • Working at Heights in Warehouses and Distribution Centres
  • New1 A344-17: User's Guide for Steel Storage Racks

*A lack of an effective media device policy or arrangements for enforcement can have severe consequences in a complex work environment. In today's connected world, employees have an expectation to be able to communicate with their spouse and their children on demand. While Coca-Cola Refreshments prohibits the use of cell phones and media devices in the operating space, we have an effective system in place for workers to receive urgent or emergency communication.