Even in an average year, warehouse injuries are all too common. According to the Work Injury Source, manufacturing companies had 395,300 workplace injuries in 2019.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, warehouses are being put to the test. Online purchases are up and it’s resting on the efficiency and productivity of warehouses to keep up with the boom. With the increased pressure, it can be easy to forgo safety measures that continue to keep employees safe and healthy.
Workplace injuries can be disastrous for both the employees and warehouses involved. Not only are lost time and workers’ compensations claims expensive for companies, but these injuries can stay with employees for the rest of their lives.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries that happen in warehouses across the country, and how your team can take steps to prevent them and increase your warehouse safety.
One of the most common ways employees are injured in warehouses is through heavy products and objects accidentally falling and striking them. In fact, OSHA has reported that there are over 50,000 people injured by falling objects in the country every year.
Whether your items aren’t placed carefully enough on a shelf or they’re shaped uniquely and can easily be misplaced or roll off, it’s extremely important to make sure your products are stacked on shelves or storage units carefully.
You can greatly reduce the number of falling injuries that happen in your warehouse by:
- Decreasing the number of heavy objects on high shelves
- Increasing employee training on correct stacking methods and how to spot unsafe storage and stacking
- Considering secure racking options
- Transporting objects through other means besides manpower, like industrial manipulators
- Training your employees about the proper response if a falling injury occurs on the floor
- Insisting your employees wear proper protection if necessary, including hard hats and helmets
Slips, Trips and Falls
Debris gets kicked around, liquids or chemicals get spilled, broken pallets get in the way – it’s so easy for employees to end up slipping, tripping or falling in the warehouse.
OSHA reports that these types of accidents make up the most of “general industry accidents” and that 15% of accidental deaths in the industry are caused by slips, trips and falls.
These types of accidents can lead to several different types of injuries, including concussions, head injuries, broken limbs, cracked ribs or serious back problems.
While these are some of the most dangerous and common accidents that happen in warehouses, they’re also some of the most simple to prevent.
There are several easy steps to lower the chances of employees getting injured through a slip, trip or fall, including:
- Maintaining warehouse organization and removing clutter that could be a tripping hazard
- Ensuring there is ample lighting in your warehouse and no unmarked areas with steps or a difference in floor area that could be tripping hazards
- Attending to spills as soon as they happen
- Training your employees how to handle spill situations, especially if the spill could be a dangerous chemical
- Making sure your employees are wearing the proper footwear for the floor
Pallet Rack Collapses
Pallet collapse accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Pallets can be struck by a forklift or a similar machine. Racks can be overloaded with too many products or designed poorly with not enough lead clearance. It’s also possible that some pallet racks were installed incorrectly or were re-used with products that are heavier than the recommended clearance.
These types of accidents can be very dangerous – even the smallest product can be a hazard when dropped from high-tiered racks.
We suggest warehouses take the following steps to avoid further pallet collapses, including:
- Stacking your heaviest products on bottom shelves to reduce the likelihood of heavy objects breaking pallet beams
- Making sure pallet racks have enough room in between them to be moved and accessed by lift trucks
- Ensuring the proper safety training for anyone handling forklifts, lift tricks and products on pallet racks
- Teaching your employees to spot the signs of pallet racks that aren’t stacked correctly, such as pallets that are hanging over and not uniform
- Scheduling restocking and put-away times when there aren’t a surplus of employees around in common areas
Ergonomic strain is a major concern for warehouses that rely on manpower to move products. OSHA reports that due to poor ergonomic designs and improper lifting practices, almost 1.8 million workers suffer from ergonomic-related injuries every year.
The types of events that can cause these injuries include forceful or repeated movements, twisting and reaching in abnormal positions and employees not getting enough rest.
Events like these can easily create back, leg and foot injuries that become chronic, and can cause future loss of time and expensive worker’s compensation claims.
Our tips on helping your employees avoid major ergonomic strain include:
- Prioritizing training for your team on correct lifting technique
- Making sure your employees have enough room to move products carefully in their workstations
- Offering rubber floor pads for your employees to reduce overworking their feet and legs
- Ensuring that all tools necessary to complete their job are easily within reach
- Suggesting back braces and other technology to help support your employees
- Considering using technology that reduces the likelihood of ergonomic fatigue, such as industrial manipulators
Stay Proactive Against Workplace Injury
During the era of COVID-19, employers realized that their employees’ health is more important than ever. That means that warehouse owners need to stay vigilant and take steps to make sure that accidents are prevented before they can occur.
For many warehouses, a proactive step in reducing workplace injury starts by investing in industrial manipulators.
Industrial manipulators are machines with a rigid steel arm that allow complex pneumatic tilts and rotations. They are controlled by a human employee, and can easily help:
- Increase your warehouse’s safety and employee protections
- Improve your warehouse’s productivity and efficiency
- Adhere to your facility’s rigorous hygienic standards
- Decrease company costs in the long-term by investing in quality tools for your employees
If your employees are constantly experiencing fatigue due to lifting heavy products, or you’ve had issues with lost time or workers’ compensation due to workplace injuries before, it’s time to consider an industrial manipulator for your warehouse. Contact Dalmec today to discuss your options.