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Distributor's Link Magazine Winter 2023 / Vol 46 No 1


112 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK ROBERT FOOTLIK ARE YOU READY FOR THE COMING STORM? from page 42 Whatever it costs to remove debris, smear some roofing compound and make repairs will definitely cost far less than shutting down and cleaning up below. Here too, anything out of place can speak volumes about your operation. Should there be picnic garbage and cigarette butts on the roof? Evidence of extended lunch hours and breaks is easy to spot if you know where to look. Objective: Keeping People Safe And The Lawyers Far, Far Away How accessible are your docks? Does the trash dumpster obstruct traffic? Look at the truck maneuvering area from the truck driver’s perspective. Backing in from the blind side takes longer and is more accident prone than a left side approach. Providing lines, lights and other reference points will save the drivers time, but it also improves your dock utilization and safety. More importantly, highway equipment and visitor vehicles do not mix well, especially when the drivers become pedestrians. Somehow, parking lot planners frequently overlook this concept. Take a good look at how customers and visitors interact with both semis and your trucks. Here too efficiency and safety both need to be reviewed. Deliveries do not start when the truck leaves the dock. Nothing profitable happens until the truck and merchandise are on the road. Get the orders delivered in less time with care and precision. Warehouse operating rules and regulations are an integral component of safety. While OSHA Section 1910.178 spells out the training for powered equipment operators, it is vague to non-existent regarding what pedestrians and workers should be doing to stay safe. There is a good reason for this, context. Every operation is different. Even two branches in identical buildings do not share the same potential for accidents. If your company does not spell out a safety code for warehouse visitors create one before an accident happens and the contingency fee attorney picks your pocket. The best defense is keeping people safe and ensuring that they know the hazards of a warehouse environment. Fastener Distributors could learn some good practices from Costco and Home Depot. The number one OSHA violation is falling. This catchall category includes everything from stepladders to roofs. In a typical warehouse the most common problems are unsafe stepladders and practices such as climbing on cartons or pallets of merchandise. Similarly, climbing pallet racks instead of using the right equipment is a disaster waiting to happen. However, the biggest “no-no” is lifting someone up using a forklift without a real safety cage. Don’t do it…ever! Failure to enforce this rule is inexcusable and potentially very expensive. At the loading dock, there are usually open doors with a four-foot drop to the pavement. Keeping the doors open for ventilation is acceptable, but only when the there is a positive stop to hold the door at 18” above the floor, or some form of safety net across the opening. If this is impossible in your context, consider a simple proximity sensor and warning bell or light. If there is electrical power nearby an inexpensive garage light may suffice. This will not stop anyone from falling, or a driver from trying to climb up, but at least you can show a good faith effort was made to enhance safety. That might be worth real money if an incident ever becomes a litigation. Objective: Inventory Is More Than Just Money Top management and accounting watch the dollars. The warehouse watches reality. Develop your own indices to measure inventory accuracy and turns. While accounting may switch to Last In, First Out (LIFO) to enhance cash flow, order stockers and pickers should still work on a First In, First Out (FIFO) basis. Even with stainless fasteners, dumping newly received parts on top of old inventory is a bad idea. Boxes and cases can get dusty and deteriorate, sometimes to the point of customer rejection. Wear and tear, damaged threads and dirt make even new materials appear to be old or returns. Always rotate the stock, especially chemicals and sealants. Keeping the customers happy also keeps them as customers. CONTINUED ON PAGE 150


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