Employees working in a warehouse are exposed to a number of strenuous activities that can threaten their well-being. According to OHSA, the number of forklift-related accidents reaches close to 100,000 per year (100 fatal accidents, 34,900 serious injury accidents, and 61,800 non-serious accidents). As a result, those who handle heavy material handling equipment such as forklifts need to take special precautions to ensure that the materials they transport are properly handled. Here are four most common warehouse incidents you can easily avoid to prevent injuries and increase workplace productivity.
Slips & Trips
The warehouse is a place with lots of stuff. Its narrow aisles, tall stacks of goods, and poor lighting are the exact ingredients that can compromise visibility. Slipping and tripping over materials or spilled liquid are common accidents that can be avoided if the warehouse maintains adequate lighting and equips dark corners with special lights that can be easily switched on and off. Remove unnecessary steps or ridges and encourage employees to never leave any cargo, box, and goods unattended on the floor.
If a warehouse worker needs to temporarily leave the floor, it is important for him or her to move materials away from the center of the aisle while keeping lights on. In cases when something is spilled, employees should take the proper steps to close the area with visible signs and clean up as soon as possible.
Duties in the warehouse sometimes take employees to relatively high places off the floor. Working with complicated and heavy materials at high points increases the possibility of employees falling and suffering severe injuries. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slipping, tripping, and falling are the most common industry accidents. They make up to 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Additionally, accidents cause warehouses to lose more than 95 million total work days each year.
As a result it is critical for warehouses to not only provide adequate lighting and repair uneven floor surface, but also have safety rails, straps, and even non-slip mats to equip their employees for safety and success.
Though not often discussed, warehouse fires can take a severe toll on your business. Warehouse fires can have costly and devastating consequences, but are considered to be one of the more preventable incidents. To avoid this disaster from finding its way into your warehouse, make sure that you:
- Make sure your warehouse passes fire inspection
- Install sprinkler systems, while giving employees easy access to fire-extinguishing tools
- Keep electrical cords in good condition and inspect them for damage. Discard worn wires and old extension cords.
- Handle all flammable fluids and gasses with the right equipment
Ergonomics & Improper Material Handling
Healthy employees are better able to maintain a high level of alertness and responsiveness than those that suffer from work-related ailments and injuries. Make sure that you give your employees some time to chill and catch their breath throughout the day. Emphasize the importance of safety and worker well-being in your monthly employee meetings so that everyone has a chance to review some of the basic safety material handling rules. Provide adequate training and protective equipment for all employees.
At the end of day, you want to make sure that the work environment you create and the duties you assign to your workers adhere to the highest safety standards. By maintaining adequate lighting and equipping your employees with the right tools, you will see less injuries and greater productivity.