According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, there are more than 7,000 warehouses across the U.S., employing over 145,000 workers. Even in the safest of facilities, warehouse employees can face a number of hazards in the workplace. Some of the dangers that workers may face in warehouses include the following: unsafe or improper use of forklifts, not properly handling materials and products, insufficient provisions for fire safety, failing to use and wear appropriate personal protective equipment, failing to follow appropriate lockout and tagout procedures, stacking products improperly, and repetitive motion injuries.
Reducing the risks for warehouse accidents
While not every accident in the workplace can be prevented, there are some safety precautions that can be taken, and policies that can be implemented, in order to help limit the risks. Safety procedures that may be helpful in reducing the risk of injury to workers include:
Safety training – It is important to educate workers on the workplace’s safe practices, both so that they are familiar with how to minimize the risk they, and their co-workers, face in the workplace, and so they understand the consequences of not following warehouse safety standards. This also helps to ensure that workers know where to find first aid and fire provisions, and that they know how to respond to an emergency. Additionally, employees should be trained and certified to use equipment, including forklifts and hydraulic dollies, to guarantee that equipment is operated properly and safely.
Require the use of safety equipment – It is vital in warehouses that employees wear proper clothing and shoes, as well as use eye protection and hard hats when appropriate. This can help prevent clothes from getting caught or entangled in equipment and reduce the risk of foot, eye and head injuries, which can require workers’ compensation benefits, including medical treatment and disability pay.
Conduct regular safety checks – Regularly checking for and eliminating potential safety hazards, including improperly stored tools or equipment, stray cords and spilled liquids, can aid in minimizing employees’ injury risk. This can also help to identify any areas or equipment requiring service or repair.
Identify hazardous zones – Clearly labeling and marking off hazardous zones allows workers to be aware of dangerous areas so that they may use extra care. Signs and tape or painted stripes on the floor are often utilized to highlight hazardous zones and to indicate safe walkways.
Using these procedures and other safety policies to create a safety culture, along with placing an emphasis on employee safety education, can assist in eliminating some of the potential dangers present in warehouses, which can help reduce the number of warehouse work injuries.