Today’s e-commerce driven market has created many job opportunities for warehouse pickers. Given the nature of this job, there are various workplace injuries that can occur – some more obvious than others.
For order pickers at large e-commerce warehousing facilities, lifting heavy packages and objects can cause back injuries, which is one of the most common risks.
However, order pickers at warehouses also face other serious injury risks, such as falling objects, arm, elbow, shoulder, and musculoskeletal strains, repetitive motion injuries, and trips and falls. Some accidents may also involve forklifts, cranes, and other forms of large material handling equipment.
High Shelves at Warehouses can be a Workplace Hazard
To cut their operational costs and maximize the warehouse space, e-commerce companies often store materials and supplies on high shelving units, which can sometimes be as high as 30 feet. Order pickers are required to use operator-up lift trucks to access these shelves, which increases their risk of fall injuries and the risk of getting struck by falling objects.
Employers should ensure that order pickers operating at heights in the warehouse have appropriate fall protection gear. This usually includes a full-body harness along with a retractable or fixed-length tether.
Load capacity and stability guidelines should be strictly followed so that workers are not at risk of tip-over accidents from an unstable or excess load. While designing these high shelving units, overhead obstructions should be avoided to ensure worker safety.
To minimize the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, back injuries, and shoulder strains, employers should provide order pickers with material-handling aids, including four-wheeled carts and hand trucks. This will reduce the need for manual heavy lifting and carrying, which can cause accidents as well as long-term damage from overuse of muscles and joints.
Injury Risk from the Use of Robotics and AI
To automate the order fulfillment process at warehouses, leading e-commerce companies now increasingly make use of robotics and artificial intelligence alongside humans.
While advanced automation brings down the costs for the owners and manufacturers, it can pose danger to the lives of order pickers and other warehouse employees, if these innovative technologies are not deployed, controlled, and supervised correctly.
In 2018, for example, nearly 25 workers at an Amazon warehouse had to be hospitalized after a robot punctured a bear repellant can stored at the facility. Facilities in various parts of the country (including a large Amazon fulfillment center in the Lehigh Valley) have warehouse pickers that may be susceptible to injuries in these situations.
Potentially Unsafe Workplace Conditions for Pickers at Amazon
The global e-commerce giant Amazon has thousands of workers operating in extensive warehousing facilities, some of which can span the length of at least 20 football fields. According to OSHA’s worker safety inspection data, Amazon has faced more than a hundred federal investigations since 2016. OSHA has advised Amazon to change their working conditions that can pose the risk of injury to its workers.
Choose an Experienced Workers’ Comp Lawyer in PA
In Pennsylvania, order pickers who get injured at the workplace could be eligible to receive workers’ compensation to cover their medical costs, loss of wages, and other benefits, depending on the facts of their case.
If you or a loved one has suffered workplace injuries, you should to seek legal advice from an experienced PA workers’ compensation attorney in order to protect your rights and receive your rightful compensation.
Robinson Law has dealt with cases for warehouse pickers and has in-depth knowledge and expertise to handle your case most effectively. To schedule a consultation, call today.