With the advent of e-commerce, where consumers don’t even have to leave home to make all sorts of purchases with the click of a mouse, warehouse workers are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated in 2017 that more than 960,000 workers were employed by storage and warehouse facilities in the United States. Most toil as material movers and freight stock handlers, laborers and forklift operators. The BLS expects these numbers to jump up 8% by 2026.
Dangers abound for warehouse workers
As a warehouse worker, you are used to working fast and efficiently. But that fast-paced work environment could lead to serious injuries or even death.
This is especially true if best practices safety protocols are not in place or not followed. Below are some things to keep in mind when working a warehouse job.
Common warehouse hazards
Most warehouse workers suffer injuries or deaths from the following:
- Forklift accidents
- Back injuries due to unsafe lifting
- Crush and struck-by injuries due to falls or collapsing boxes and products
Worker died from seven-foot fall
The website EHS Daily Advisor reported that one hapless warehouse worker died from a fall of just seven feet. The worker was on top of a a forklift-operated wooden pallet with a co-worker at the controls. He was moving inventory to the uppermost shelf despite forklifts not being designed to lift human cargo. In this case, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that the workers had been provided no training in the process.
Death rates decreasing?
Statistics from one recent year indicate that 11 workers died on the job at storage facilities and warehouses. This number is a decrease from earlier years.
But the warehouse owners have the duty to keep their workers as safe as possible while on the job. Taking the following steps can save lives and reduce injuries:
- Ensure that all workers receive proper training. No one should ever operate a forklift without receiving formal instruction as well as hands-on training. All training should be given in the language that the workers understand.
- Ensure common sense is applied. It’s easy to become complacent doing repetitive tasks all day. But forklifts can be dangerous. Workers should be forbidden from engaging in horseplay or using them for transportation.
- Provide proper equipment. All workers should be provided with the right safety equipment and tools for their tasks. This can eliminate the need to use a forklift to reach an overhead area.
- Provide fall protection. Workers must be given fall protection and trained in its proper usage. All training should include personal fall protection system standards and the walking-working surfaces rule.
Of course, the majority of injuries fortunately do not wind up being fatal incidents. Still, getting hurt on the job can mean a lot of recovery time where you are not earning money to meet your bills. After a warehouse injury, you may need to file a claim for compensation.