Warehouse Health and Safety Risks: Costco
Week 3 Assignment
MGT 496: Strategic Warehouse Management
Warehouse Health and Safety Risk: Costco
Having a family, purchasing products from wholesale distributors helps me to save both time and money. Over the years bulk and wholesale distributors have gained popularity by providing access to bulk supplies at lower prices to consumers just like myself. However, with their popularity comes increased consumer traffic and the rate of accidents in their warehouse buying clubs has increased for companies like Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s. Many of these accidents can be prevented by taking the proper precautions and by raising awareness. For this paper I am choosing to take a closer look at the wholesale bulk retailer, Costco. Being that I shop at Costco on a bi-weekly or monthly basis I can take a closer look at the risks this retail location is facing as well as provide a risk assessment for the location closest to me.
All though its history can date its history back to 1976, It was not until 1983 that the well-known wholesale distributor Costco opened its first warehouse in Seattle, Washington. Since then, Costco has become a multi-billion-dollar global retailer that operates in eight countries. Most of their locations are concentrated in the United States and Puerto Rico however they have 140 other locations in Canada and Mexico as well as several others in a few more countries around the world. The location I frequent the most often is in North Wales, Pennsylvania. All though it is not the same as a typical warehouse since it is also a functioning retail store, Costco must still adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). According to Matthews (2011) “Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) established three permanent federal agencies to help with accessing such issues. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set and enforce standards, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct research on workplace hazards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) to referee any workplace challenges” (Matthews, P.2011). Many of the accidents reported in the warehouse clubs can be prevented as long employees are trained properly and take the proper precautions to avoid health and safety risks. To assist with this, Costco must ensure that employees and managers are well versed in Health and Safety at Work Act (HASWA). One of the risks that was brought to my attention during a visit was the sharp edges of the pallets located in the aisles that hold the products. Each aisle has multi-level shelving with pallet stackers that contain the products that are delivered to the warehouse. The pallets are left at each aisle and the products are not offloaded from these. The hazard that this presents is injury to either an employee or customer if they happen to hit the edge of the pallet, specifically with their feet. For instance, if a customer is wearing flipflops and happens to accidently hit the pallet edge with their foot, this could result in an injury possibly needing to visit a hospital for stitches. I would recommend that the shipping pallets have rubber corners placed on the either during shipping or once they are placed on the edges to prevent injury.
Each location has different features such as pharmacy, deli, and bakery. Along with these departments, my location also has a food court in which you can grab food or beverage during or after your visit. One of the hazards that I found at my location was in the food court in front of the beverage station. I noticed that there were liquids on the ground and that there were no employees around to clean up this area. To prevent a slip and fall for an employee or customer I would suggest that this location places carpets in this area to absorb any spills that could result in injury. I would also suggest that they place cupholders on the carts to allow for customers to place their beverages in the cupholder while shopping so that they have less chance to spill beverages throughout the store.
A third hazard I noticed was the lack of fire extinguishers at sample stations. On most days during rush hours Costco offers sampling of products. Some of they include cooking stations. If an emergency were to happen and a fire was somehow started at the food station, the employee would not have the equipment to put out the fire, injury could occur to both employees and customers. My recommendation would be to have the proper fire extinguishers available at each station or within handling distance as well as to train the employees how to use these properly if there were an emergency at their stations.
In conclusion, there are areas of improvement needed as far as health and safety concerns at my local Costco Warehouse. Some of these issues noted during my risk assessment were the sharp edges of the pallets, areas in the warehouse floor that are more susceptible to spillages, as well as lack of proper emergency equipment at food sampling stations. By addressing these issues with proper education and the proper tools that will help minimize the risk of injury, Costco will remain one of the leading bulk wholesale providers in the nation.
Emmett, S., (2005). Excellence in warehouse management, 1st Edition. West Sussex,
England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, ISBN: 978-0-470-01531-5
Matthews, P. (2011). Occupational safety and health act of 1970 (OSHA). In Cynthia L.
Clark (Ed.), The American economy: A historical encyclopedia.
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