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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If... Your Manager Plugs Holes With His Finger

By Kate Vitasek | 09/06/2010 | 8:48 PM

Dutchboy plugging dyke Growing up I remembered a story about a dutch boy that saved his village by plugging a dike with his finger. The story comes from the book Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. A small Dutch Boy saves his village from an impending flood by plugging a leak from a dike with his finger. He keeps his finger there until help arrives, thus the leak is fixed and the village is saved.

Oftentimes managers can get the best of themselves by sticking their fingers in places they do not belong. This week’s bad warehouse is about a manager that thought he must have been the Dutch Boy by sticking his hand over a leak. The leak was from a barrel containing Class D Poisonous Product. Our contributor is Michael Kelton, who I interviewed at the Warehousing Education and Research Council’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA.

Let’s listen to Michael as he tells us about the warehouse he visited.



When I first heard this, I was in utter disbelief that someone would even try that with a placarded product. But maybe the product wasn’t labeled?!? However, I would assume that the manager knew the types of products his warehouse was storing and distributing.

I then looked up what was considered a Class D Poisonous Product.  The classification used in the video by Michael is from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. The United States has many different regulations controlling the movement and storage of hazardous materials. For the transportation and storage in the United States, I will default to the Department of Transportation’s classification system, which places poisonous products in Class 6.

Dealing with hazardous materials requires a special sort of person, especially with Class 6 Poisons.  This story underlines the need to inspect all products and providing adequate storage solutions for all types of products. Best practice, according to the Warehousing Education and Research Council’s Best Practice guide, is that materials should be handled, labeled and shipped in accordance with the product involved.  Since different jurisdictions have different definitions and requirements from local to national, all possible ordinances and laws must be followed.

Depending on the scope and where in the supply chain hazardous materials are located, you will need to consult different resources. The following is a list of US Federal Government agencies tasked with regulating hazardous materials.

Steve Banker, from Logistics Viewpoints, provides an insightful blog on compliance being the top priority for chemical warehouses and the many different organizations and regulations that must be observed. Be sure to check your state and local agencies as well. Also, consider training your workforce and certifying their knowledge on hazardous material management. You may want to consider the Institute for Hazardous Materials Management. There are also consultancies that provide guidance in chemical material management such as Haas TCM.

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and maybe what to do if you’re not doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected]. If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free WERC Warehouse Certification Audit by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).

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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.


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