Warehousing is a growing industry in the United States. Companies both large and small use them to hold supplies or inventory before shipping them to their destinations.
Although warehouses have different inventory, they all have most of the same occupational hazards.
Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls account for many of the injuries reported in warehouses. A fall can result in everything from simple abrasion to broken or dislocated bones. These accidents may be avoidable when workers wear nonslip shoes and remain alert to surfaces.
Warehouse workers spend a lot of time doing repetitive or awkward tasks. These can result in musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, which often require surgery and bedrest to correct. Workers can avoid this risk by changing the way that they move and by taking breaks frequently.
Conveyors, cranes and forklifts
Many large warehouses use conveyors, cranes and forklifts to move goods from one side of the warehouse to another. As with any machinery, they present a significant hazard, even when they are in perfect working order and workers follow all the relevant safety regulations.
When machinery breaks down, a lockout/tagout system needs to be in place to prevent workers from using them. Failing to properly tag a piece of broken equipment or ignoring these precautions can cause fires, falls and electric shocks that result in mild to severe injuries.
Warehouses usually contain thousands of stacked products. These stacks can fall if workers do not follow stacking safety rules, such as stacking heavier materials on the bottom or making sure the stacks are level.
Employers should provide training and oversight so that workers are aware of these common hazards and understand the safety rules that protect them from injuries.