Every job comes with its own occupational hazards, but warehouses, in particular, can be very dangerous. It is very important to understand the common warehouse dangers and hazards because they can cause injuries and in extreme cases, death. From heavy loads to harmful substances, danger is lurking around every corner.
Let’s have a look at the top safety hazards that can be found in a warehouse:
Heavy equipment accidents – mainly involving forklifts.
Forklift accidents are one of the most serious types of accidents in warehouses due to the sheer size and power of the vehicle. When employees work with forklifts every day, they tend to get comfortable using the equipment- this can be very dangerous because this tends to lead towards carelessness.
There can be two kinds of forklift accidents: Driving into something or mishandling materials. In the first instance, you may damage the equipment, the racking or – worst case scenario – you could hit someone – which can be a serious problem. Mishandling materials is usually a result of overstacking the forklift or not – this can lead to a mobile hazard that can tip over at any point, endangering the driver and anyone around the machinery.
How to avoid these kinds of accidents?
- Be sure that only trained employees operate the forklifts.
- Even the operators who have received proper training should be enrolled in refresher courses on a regular basis to avoid the creation of bad habits.
- Perform daily equipment inspections to check the controls of the equipment and if there are any issues preventing the machinery to function properly
Slips and trips
When warehouse workers slip or trip…they tend to fall. Falling accounts for the large majority of workplace accidents. Your employees are always at risk of falling. Liquids may get spilled, gravel can end up on the floor, debris can create risks, boxes and pallets may be left in the wrong place.
To avoid these hazards, be sure that your employees are trained to follow detailed procedures on what should they do in case of a spill or any other similar issue occurs. Personnel should be appropriately attired, including proper working shoes. This is why implementing anti-slip floor tape is essential for ensuring the safety of your warehouse.
The other most common cause of physical injuries in warehouses and storage facilities involves improper manual lifting and handling. Manual lifting can cause musculoskeletal disorders if done with awkward postures, repetitive motions or overextension. It is estimated that back and shoulder pain makes up to approximately 40-50% of all claims filed by warehouse workers.
The risk is elevated when a person handles heavy loads. These types of injuries can be avoided if you train you employees properly and modify your warehouse to minimize the need for them to lift heavy objects.
A fire can jeopardize your entire storage facility, but this warehouse hazard is one of the most preventable accidents. Building permits, clearly marked exits, fire extinguishers and training are required in workplaces for a reason – to minimize the danger of the fire. Still, fires are very common and require constant prevention awareness.
To lower the chances of a fire breaking out you have to be sure not to have:
- Worn and exposed wires such as old extension cords – be sure to seal all of your wires with non-flammable materials.
- Leaking flammable fluids and gasses – always be sure to perform regular checks
- Running electrical cords under flammable materials such as carpets
When handling hazardous chemicals in your warehouse, a hazard communications program should be implemented. This program should cover effective training on identifying chemicals and the proper handling of them. Your warehouse workers should e equipped with the proper protective clothing and masks to avoid exposure to these chemicals. The warehouse should also be modernized if asbestos is still used as a fire protection method.
A safe warehouse is an efficient warehouse. You can ensure that your warehouse is operating under optimal working conditions if you give your employees proper training on how to act around these daily hazards, and what to do in case they find themselves in a dangerous situation. In addition to safety training, be sure that they are equipped with proper protective clothing like slip-resistant footwear with a metallic tip to prevent serious injuries.