Common Safety Hazards in the Warehouse
Given the number of moving parts and people on the average warehouse floor, it is no surprise that warehouses are among the most dangerous places to work in the United States. However, just because this type of work is hazardous does not mean warehouse managers can’t be diligent about establishing and maintaining safe working conditions. Everyone who works in this industry should be aware of common safety hazards in the warehouse and the actions they can take to reduce the risk of injury.
Forklifts and Other Heavy Machinery
Forklift accidents account for thousands of serious injuries and fatalities in warehouses across the country every year. These accidents typically stem from operator error as opposed to forklifts themselves malfunctioning. In either case, the consequences of negligent forklift use and/or maintenance can be catastrophic.
Of course, forklifts aren’t the only dangerous machines in many warehouses. Conveyor belts, packing machines, pallet jacks, and various other heavy equipment can cause severe harm to workers who are not properly trained in both machinery operation and standard safety practices.
Slipping, Tripping, and Falling Accidents
While forklifts are the primary cause of fatal workplace accidents in warehouses, slips and falls are not far behind on the list of safety hazards. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, slips, trips, and falls account for 95 million lost working days in warehouses each year, totaling 25 percent of all warehouse injury claims and 15 percent of all accidental deaths in the industry.
Fortunately, slips and falls can be mitigated with simple due diligence by warehouse workers and management. Ensuring that walkways are clear of spills and debris, laying down non-slip floor coverings, and providing consistent training and reminders to employees about the benefits of cleanliness can all but eliminate slipping hazards from a warehouse.
Falling Objects and Hazardous Materials
By its very nature, warehouse work often involves exposure to toxic, flammable, or heavy materials that can cause significant harm under the wrong circumstances. Anyone handling hazardous materials in a warehouse must act with extreme caution at all times, otherwise devastating and life-altering consequences can result.
In the same vein, warehouse workers must be mindful of dangerous materials even when they are not directly in use. A leaking gas container or an unsecured load on a high rack could spell disaster if left unattended, so constant vigilance is crucial for everyone on and off the floor.
Wear and Tear on the Body
While it may not be as immediate as other common safety hazards in the warehouse, nothing does more lasting damage to a warehouse worker than the repetitive motions that come naturally with the job. Years of hard work can wear down anyone’s body, often resulting in chronic pain and significant loss of mobility later in life. Small breaks throughout the day should be a standard part of operations for warehouse workers on the floor and sitting behind desks, for the sake of preserving both their bodies and their minds.