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Improving Warehouse Safety Culture and Safety Training with Loss Trend Analysis

Adam Lopez
By Adam Lopez Commercial Lines Producer, Insurance Office of America

There are more than 22,000 warehouses in the United States, which employ more than 1.8 million people. Employment in the warehouse sector has fluctuated over the last three years, decreasing during the early stages of COVID as warehouses cut labor to offset revenue losses and then bounced back as e-commerce dramatically accelerated. This sector is expected to continue to see employment growth, adding nearly 500,000 jobs from 2022 to 2032.

As the industry continues to expand, it is critical for the viability of these businesses to keep their employees safe. Warehouses are hives of human and machine activity that present many risks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) most recently released workforce data, the rate of injury and illness cases for warehouse workers was 5.5 per 100 full-time warehouse workers, a far cry from the rate of 4.0 in 2020.

In 2023, two of the most frequently cited workplace safety standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) included fall protection and ladders.

Warehouses must take a proactive, strategic approach to reduce the rate of injuries. It should include analyzing incident loss trends to create a strong safety culture in the workplace and to develop more effective safety programs.

Data-driven approach to safety

Loss trend analyses are critical to warehouse risk management. They help to identify the root cause of how, where and why injuries are happening. By analyzing data such as the number and severity of safety incidents, the percentage of claims involving experienced versus inexperienced workers and which departments or locations are underperforming on safety, warehouses can enhance safety culture and improve training methods to reduce insurance claims and minimize losses.

For example, a loss trend analysis might reveal that 60% of injuries are happening in the second shift when there’s no supervision or most injuries are happening for employees who have just two weeks on the job with little to no training. In the first case, that information signals a need for more oversight. In the second case, ensuring the proper onboarding of new employees moving forward is crucial.

Identifying and analyzing the factors and trends driving losses helps facilitate proactive risk management, providing a roadmap for effective risk mitigation strategies. This loss trend analysis delivers tangible business benefits that include minimizing losses, enhancing operational procedures, limiting hazards, and boosting productivity and profitability.

Working with an insurance advisor who can compile and analyze loss data helps warehouses deploy more effective strategies for preventing workplace injuries.

Creating safety culture in the workplace

Analyzing loss trends allows warehouses to take a more informed approach to developing a safety culture.

An effective safety culture is a culture where safety is embedded throughout the organization, management consistently demonstrates a commitment to safety and workers are recognized and rewarded for behavior that contributes to safety. Warehouses with strong safety cultures also implement best practices such as inspecting equipment regularly, holding routine practice drills, posting clear signage and regularly providing training.

Importance of safety training

Safety training is one the most important contributing elements to a strong safety culture. A loss trend analysis can help inform the development of robust training designed to help employees avoid common warehouse safety hazards including forklift accidents, improper lifting, and slips and falls.

Today, as employee turnover and business expansion bring an influx of new employees into warehouses, training is critical to educating these inexperienced employees on the risks of the workplace as well as the policies, protocols and practices that can help them avoid falling victim to these hazards.

Warehouse programs that most effectively mitigate accident and injury risks are programs that:

Explain the why behind rules and regulations to help employees better understand the importance of following them.

Encourage managers to lead by example, consistently following policies and procedures, so that employees will be more likely to mirror this behavior.

Employ different training methods such as online training, gamification and role playing to keep employees actively engaged in the training process.

Assign mentors to help new hires learn on the job, guiding them on how to properly use warehouse equipment and serving as a sounding board to make it easier for newer employees to ask questions or voice concerns.

Loss trend analysis helps warehouses take a more strategic, proactive approach to keeping employees safe. This practice protects employees and the business by helping warehouses develop a strong safety culture and more effective safety training.

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