A warehouse deals with heavy machinery and potentially dangerous inventory, so everyone in the facility needs to do their job correctly to make sure there are no incidents, whether that’s damaged inventory, faulty equipment, or injured personnel.

What you need to know before starting a warehouse job is that you’re part of the mechanism ensuring everything runs smoothly, and everyone goes home safely; neglecting your responsibilities can lead to disaster. Walk into your first day with a firm grasp of your expectations and obligations.

The Flow of Materials Through Your Facility

Inventory comes by receiving delivery drivers, is sorted into the pallet rack system, and sometimes requires that you deal with prepping materials for delivery. Every area has its designated space that should not intersect with the work of another; spreading out your receiving into the storing area will only lead to confusion. Keep everything organized and prevent any spillover into other areas of work.

Risk Mismanagement

Mixing work areas can lead to misplaced items or shipping out inventory that you need to store. Keep track of your current task and ensure that you or anyone else is not interrupting the work of another.

Inventory Management

Storing inventory is an ordeal unto itself and can lead to difficult situations. You’ll need to ensure you store materials on the proper shelves, record their location, track how many currently sit on the shelf, and make sure inventory does not exceed the pallet rack’s weight limit. You need to know the general layout of the storage floor and the location of items. Without familiarizing yourself with the layout, you’ll be running around without an idea of where to go or what to do.

Safety Precautions

Many things can go wrong in the warehouse, making spatial and situational awareness key to preventing or mitigating disaster. You must know the proper procedures for storing items on tall shelves, what to do in case of a fire, and the proper use of forklifts and other vehicles in the facility. If you do not have the appropriate training to complete a job, let your supervisor know and do not attempt to figure it out yourself.

Fire Dangers

Fire is one of the most significant hazards you can deal with and can cause untold damage. One critical method of preventing the spread of fire is to ensure enough flue space in racks. If you were to block these flue spaces, the entire facility could go up in flames.

Feel Comfortable With Your Responsibilities

When your supervisor gives you tasks to complete, you need to understand what to do and how to accomplish your job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify what you need to do or where you can locate items and destinations. What you need to know about working in a warehouse is that it can be chaotic at times, but you still need to understand your goals and how to complete them in the safest way possible.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.