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Workplace Safety in the Warehouse Environment

22Sep, 2014
Workplace Safety in the Warehouse Environment

When it comes to warehousing operations, employee safety is of utmost importance. The day-to-day work of a warehouse employee often involves heavy equipment, tall ladders, and other situations where injuries can easily occur. Not only are workplace injuries costly in terms of human suffering and loss of life, they can also be expensive to the company as a whole. For any company whose business involves warehousing, remaining aware of on-the-job safety risks is a key component to keeping warehouse operations both efficient and safe.

What Types of Workplace Injuries Can Occur in a Warehouse?

Workplace injuries that happen in warehouses tend to fall into a few general categories. Forklifts are one common source of accidents and injuries. In 2004, five workers were killed in warehouse forklift accidents, and an additional 2,390 workers sustained injuries caused by forklifts. One key cause of forklift fatalities are overturns. Because forklifts have consistently proven to be a risk for workplace injuries and fatalities, it is important for warehouse employees to be properly instructed and trained in how to safely operate this equipment.

Another common cause of warehouse employee injuries are slip-and-fall accidents. In 2004, eight workers died as a result of falls, and 1,100 workers were injured from slipping or tripping while on the job in a warehouse. Proper employee safety instruction, as well as other measures to minimise slip and fall risks, can help prevent these tragedies from occurring.

Aside from fatal accidents, overexertion is another source of work-related injuries in warehouse workers. Usually, these injuries occur when the employee is lifting a heavy load. Back and shoulder injuries represent nearly half of all injury claims among warehouse workers, which underscores the importance of proper material-handling techniques. Warehouse work involves manual labor that is intrinsically hard on the body and its muscles, but back and shoulder injuries and pain can be minimised. Warehouse design can be optimised to keep bending, reaching, and twisting at a minimum to prevent employees from sustaining overexertion injuries.

Warehouse Ergonomics and Employee Safety

Warehouse design and ergonomics can be a key factor in ensuring that employees stay safe on the job. Many experts recommend that companies do an annual training audit, to observe employee work habits and ensure that warehouse personnel are aware of safety guidelines and regulations. Companies should also perform hazard assessments of warehouse work environments. For example, hazards to forklift and life truck operators can include ramps, inclines, overhead obstructions, poor lighting, and debris like empty containers and pallets.

Workplace Safety in Docking Areas

Docking areas are often the site of unfortunate workplace injuries. Experts recommend the following measures to keep docking areas safe for employees:

  • Equip all lift trucks used to load or unload trailers with spotlights
  • Keep all equipment properly maintained
  • Visually inspect trailers before driving a lift truck into them
  • Keep dock areas free of debris
  • Keep used pallets, containers, and trash in designated areas
  • Train all employees to be aware of potential hazards in the docking areas

By ensuring that unnecessary hazards are removed from your warehouses, as well as stressing that employees are properly trained and educated about workplace safety, you can prevent accidents from occurring in your warehouses and docking areas. By taking measures to keep employees safe, companies can save money and avoid potential public relations crises.

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