For all the work that goes into preventing them, the majority of warehouses are plagued with a large number of very similar safety hazards.

Due to the way warehouses handle items and process shipments, many of their workers are subject to similar risks for injury and product damage. It isn’t as hopeless as it sounds, though— there’s plenty of ways to mitigate these more prominent risks and keep everyone and everything in your warehouse safe from harm.

Below, we’ve pulled together the five warehouse hazards you’re most likely to encounter, and what you can do to prevent them:

 

The Hazard: Product Congestion

Much like a traffic jam, if you have a lot of pallets, packages, and unsold inventory all fighting for the same limited space in your warehouse, these products can create a walking hazard, tripping hazard, or even fall hazards if not properly contained.

The Solution: Better Inventory Management

By providing enough warehouse storage for everything you have to stock, you can help prevent these pileups. Make sure your shipping & receiving areas have enough wire shelving to hang onto your items before they get officially sorted out, and make sure things like pallet racks are being used effectively to prevent item pile-ups.

 

The Hazard: Improper Lifting Techniques

Warehouse hazards aren’t limited to physical impediments like spills and cables. One of the biggest health and safety risks a warehouse worker can face is improper lifting techniques. Bad form while lifting and moving heavy objects can lead to back injuries, knee failure, and worse.

The Solution: Thorough Training on Lifting Heavy Items

Some of your workers may initially scoff at the idea; “I’ve been lifting things my whole life and don’t need to be reminded!” Posting guides on how to lift more safely and ergonomically (or, in extreme situations, hosting a training day where everyone is taught the proper methods first-hand by an expert) will go a long way towards helping encourage safer lifting.

 

The Hazard: Slips & Falls

OSHA states that 15% of all accidental deaths inside warehouses are caused by slips, trips, and falls, second only to motor vehicle accidents. These accidents are especially tragic as they can be easily prevented with the right precautions.

The Solution: Clean Work Areas

Whether a fall from a ladder or a trip while walking the floor, most slip & fall accidents in warehouses are caused by cluttered floors and unattended spills. Make sure all of your workers take constant vigilance to keep their work areas clean and free of obstructions like stray boxes, spilled soda, and the like. If necessary, schedule a daily cleaning regimen to ensure your workers devote the time to this practice that it deserves.

 

The Hazard: Hazardous Material Accidents

Distribution centers often encounter their fair share of hazardous materials, whether through shipping them or requiring them to clean up and/or handle other materials. And while you may expect large-scale spills to be the biggest culprit, most hazardous material accidents are the result of smaller leaks that get worse over time.

The Solution: Provide a Hazmat Plan

These aren’t the kind of spills that can be taken care of by someone quickly grabbing a mop. Make sure to formulate a careful plan to handle all hazmat incidents, and provide the training and equipment your workers need to carefully handle any spills as safely as possible.

 

The Hazard: Improper Use of Machinery

From forklifts to powered conveyors, even to industrial fans, a huge source of injury in warehouses is due to incorrect usage of heavy machinery. These accidents are among the most dangerous in the industry, and can lead to serious injury or even fatalities, not to mention the high likelihood of property damage.

The Solution: Better Training for Dangerous Machinery

Every worker, no matter how long they’ve been there, needs to be frequently re-trained and refreshed on how these devices are used. Make sure all workers are given up-to-date information on how to use the bigger machines in your warehouse at regular intervals, keep all needed information clearly posted safely nearby, and make sure first aid kits are provided in the event of an accident.

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