Warehousing is a significant industry in the United States, making up for approximately 1.2 million people in the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Although many workplaces have various potential risks, the warehousing industry is known for its hazardous environment, having a fatality rate higher than the national average for all industries.
The warehousing industry is complex—exposing workers to a multitude of risks. Slipping and tripping are some of the leading causes of significant injuries in the warehouse, accounting for nearly a quarter of broken bones and injuries that require hospitalization. Additionally, being hit by moving or falling objects, falls from heights, and the manual handling of loads are responsible for many other major injuries in the workplace.
Identifying warehouse health and safety risks
Warehouse Risks with Docks
Injuries typically occur on docks when equipment strikes a worker, forklifts run off the dock, or products fall on a worker. Risks can be minimized by providing warning signage, promoting driving forklifts slowly on docks, and ensuring that dock ladders and stairs meet OSHA specifications.
Warehouse Risks with Forklifts
Approximately 95,000 workers who operate forklifts are injured every year in all industries, with forklift turnovers accounting for a significant percentage of roughly 100 fatalities per year. Injuries can be avoided by requiring certification for all operators, prohibiting loads that are heavier than the forklift's weight capacity, and providing covers or guardrails to protect warehouse workers from hazards such as tanks, pits, ditches, and vats.
Warehouse Risks with Conveyors
Warehouse workers are at risk of being injured by conveyors—getting caught in pinch points or by being hit by falling products. Additionally, conveyors are associated with workers developing musculoskeletal disorders due to awkward postures and repetitive motions. Hazards can be proactively mitigated by regularly inspecting conveyors, adequately guarding pinch pints, and providing proper lighting in the area surrounding the conveyor.
Warehouse Risks with Manual Lifting and Handling
Overexertion and improper lifting are the cause of most back-related injuries in warehousing. Risks can be minimized by providing warehouse workers with general ergonomics training and reducing the need for lifting by utilizing good engineering and design techniques.
Elevating Warehouse Health and Safety
Warehouse workers perform a wide range of activities that can result in various risks and hazards. The general health, safety, and welfare of workers involve you, the employer—developing a successful health and safety plan is critical to any warehouse operation.
Steps to a successful warehouse health and safety plan
- Identify and prioritize critical health and safety risks within the warehouse.
- Assess risks to protect warehouse workers and comply with the law.
- Eliminate and reduce risks through the proper utilization of personal protective equipment.
- Facilitate warehouse health and safety training—providing workers with adequate information needed to perform their job safely.
- Involve warehouse workers in the process of developing health and safety best practices by soliciting feedback.
- Regularly review warehouse health and safety performance—correcting and adjusting as needed.
Having an effective health and safety management system in place is essential to keeping warehouse workers safe. By making effective health and safety management a priority, you can protect your most valuable assets, your employees, from harm.
Ritz Safety, a family-owned business since 1983, is here to serve you. Our 13 sales and distribution centers across the United States provide a wide array of PPE and safety solutions, promoting all workers' health, well-being, and protection. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-451-3077 for convenient, cost-effective, and customized warehouse industry PPE solutions.