Top 10 Warehouse Safety Hazards and How to Avoid Them

forklift safetyHeavy Equipment Accidents - When employees work with warehouse heavy equipment such as a forklift every day, they tend to get very comfortable using the equipment. This can be very dangerous if the operator begins to underestimate the danger of the machine. Ensure that all employees understand the potential hazards a forklift or other warehouse machines present and never get too comfortable. Remain cautious and careful when operating any machine. Always follow the specific instructions provided for the equipment and avoid situations where a forklift accident is likely. Slips and Trips - Slipping is a very common warehouse hazard that can be easily avoided. To prevent the majority of slips and trips in your warehouse, eliminate the following factors:
  • Loose material such as sawdust
  • Liquids
  • Unnecessary steps or ridges
  • Boxes from the floor
  • Dark areas
Implementing anti-slip floor tape is essential for ensuring the safety of your warehouse. Falls - Falling accounts for a large majority of workplace accidents. You and your employees are always at risk of falling, not just when working above ground level. Slipping and falling is a common cause of injury among warehouse employees. When working around loading docks, remember your training and stay aware of your surroundings. Also, whenever there is a large drop between floors, proper guard railing is essential. The comprehensive guide to warehouse guardrails explains why you need to guard rails and how to implement them. warehouse hazards - fire Fires - A fire can jeopardize your entire warehouse, but this warehouse hazard is also among the most preventable accidents. Building permits, clearly marked exits, exit strategies, and fire extinguisher laws are all in place to prevent fires. Still, fires are very common and require constant prevention awareness. Things to avoid are:
  • Worn and exposed wires such as old extension cords
  • Leaking flammable fluids and gasses
  • Running electrical cords under carpet
Crushed - According to the OSHA weekly fatality/catastrophe report, two workers are crushed to death every month on the job. Provide sufficient training for any machine with augers or press machines. Avoid moving machines and trucks in the loading dock. Also, be weary of heavy materials that could fall on your employees. Exposure to Harmful Substances - Harsh chemicals such as asbestos are a serious workplace hazard. Any employee that feels that their working conditions are not adequate can flag your warehouse for inspection. Always ensure that your employees are being taken care of. Ergonomics - Every warehouse employee must take care of their bodies. Constant mistreatment will lead to pain and injury. There are several ergonomic solutions to common warehouse problems such as back and foot pain. Also, always make sure your employees understand the importance of proper lifting techniques. warehouse hazards - falling objects Moving Parts - Always pay attention to warning labels. Machines with moving parts are a common workplace hazard. When used improperly, a machine can cause severe permanent injury and death. Falling Objects - A common material handling practice is stacking objects on high platforms and shelves. Always keep heavy loads stacked neatly to avoid a shifting load or cylindrical objects from rolling off of shelves. Lack of Safety Education - Without proper education, a warehouse will not perform at its full potential. Many warehouses choose to skip thorough training to save money. This practice is unwise and will result in workers compensation lawsuits or OSHA fines. A safe warehouse is an efficient warehouse. Avoiding proper training is the number one cause of workplace injury. Implementing a systems like 5S is the best way to instill a safe environment for your employees. This basic guide to  the 5S system outlines the importance of eliminating waste and workplace hazards to improve working conditions. Implementing a system like 5S is not the only step, however. Revisiting your warehouse’s training and safety materials regularly is the only way to ensure the effectiveness of your system. What are you waiting for? Improve your warehouse today!   [forklift image source]