Warehouses have multiple activities going on at any given point of time, with a regular stream of incoming goods, order picking, shipping, and replenishment. The risk of worker injuries is significantly higher in warehouses than retail centers and many other workplaces.
Employers can take several steps to prevent workplace injuries in warehouses and reduce their risk of workers’ comp claims. Employers should also review the Guide on Warehouse Safety published by OSHA, which provides recommendations on safe warehouse practices and policies.
Preventing Forklift Injuries
Forklifts are typically unavoidable in large warehouses and fulfillment centers. But unsafe forklift operations can cause catastrophic injuries or death of the forklift operator as well as others in the vicinity. Here are the preventive measures employers can put into place to minimize the risks:
- Provide proper training to all forklift operators and evaluate their performance periodically
- Maintain haulage equipment and forklift tires in good condition
- Put in place safe procedures for lifting, placing down and stacking loads
- Restrict forklift operators to a speed limit of 5 mph and train them to operate slowly in slippery or congested areas
- Do not certify forklift operators who are below 18 years of age
Preventing Falling Object Injuries
Warehouses need to maximize their space utilization by stacking products very high. But this cost-efficient practice should not pose hazards to workers in the form of falling objects, as that could potentially end up costing much more to the employer in the form of workers’ comp claims and OSHA fines.
Stacking should be done carefully, particularly where odd shaped packages or products are involved. Special attention should be paid to cylindrical or circular objects that can roll off the shelves more easily and cause severe injuries.
Preventing Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries are a common occurrence in warehouses because the clutter in the aisles and narrow walking areas can cause a worker to slip or trip. Employers must ensure that there are workers designated for the prompt removal of corrugated carton pieces, use shrink wrap, broken pallets, and other debris from the floor to minimize the risk of slip and fall injuries.
The following safe practices can help minimize warehouse trip and fall injuries:
- Put in place clear housekeeping rules to remove all litter
- Organize the aisles to eliminate congestion that typically occurs due to floor stacking of products
- Supervisors should see to it that any spills are immediately cleaned up
- Install caution tape and warning signs in areas where the steps or floor surfaces are different
- Repair broken lighting promptly and illuminate poorly lit areas
Preventing Pallet Rack Collapse Injuries
The supervisor should periodically check all areas in the warehouse to see how uniformly the pallet racks are stacked. They should identify any overhanging pallets that could fall on a worker or get in the way of a forklift. As a rule, heavier products should be placed in lower level pallet rack slots. Adequate space between racks must be provided for safe forklift operations.
Consult with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Paula Robinson, Esq. has more than three decades of experience with the inner-workings of the workers’ comp system in Pennsylvania. If you have suffered a warehouse injury, Paula will fight on your behalf and help you obtain your rightful compensation. Schedule a consultation with us today.