Learn about the most common hazards in a warehouse and what to do when you encounter them.
Why is Warehouse Safety Important?
Warehouses can be dangerous places to work in. It is important to understand common warehouse dangers and hazards because they can cause injuries and in extreme cases death. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average of 16 fatalities every year in the US warehousing and storage sector and a reported injury and illness rate of 5 out of every 100 warehouse and storage workers. Here are 8 of the most common warehouse safety hazards and safety tips and resources to help you identify and control them.
Forklifts are critical pieces of equipment used in warehousing and storage facilities. However, when operated incorrectly can cause serious damage to operators, nearby workers and property. Unsafe use of forklifts is the most often cited hazard in warehousing operations by OSHA. Basic forklift safety tips to follow:
- Ensure all forklift operators are competent and have completed certified training. Perform regular refresher training and evaluation when an operator is observed operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
- Perform daily pre-start forklift equipment inspections to check for controls and equipment damage.
One of the worst accidents a worker could suffer when working in a warehouse is being pinned or crushed between a forklift truck and the loading dock. This can typically occur when a forklift runs off the dock and strikes a person.
- Forklift operators must be attentive and drive slowly on dock plates, make sure dock edges are clear and safe to support loads.
- Always ensure that warning signs and mechanisms are in place to prevent people from getting near docks.
The conveyor equipment is commonly used in warehouse facilities to transport goods. However, conveyors pose serious dangers to workers including getting caught in equipment and being struck by falling objects. To remain safe it is important to:
Improper stacking of loads and storage of materials on shelves can result in unintended slip and trip hazards for nearby workers.
- Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good condition, this prevents workers from slipping, tripping, or falling.
- Loads should be placed evenly and properly positioned, heavier loads must be stacked on lower or middle shelves. Always remember to remove one load at a time.
Manual Lifting/ Handling
The most common cause of physical injuries in warehouse and storage facilities involves improper manual lifting and handling. Manual lifting or handling can cause musculoskeletal disorders if done with awkward postures, repetitive motions, or overexertion.
- Plan ahead and determine if the need for lifting can be minimized by applying good engineering design techniques.
- Observe proper ergonomic posture when carrying or moving loads. If products are too heavy, ask assistance from a co-worker. Learn more about the principles of ergonomics in the workplace.
When handling hazardous chemicals in your warehouse or storage facilities, a hazard communication program should be implemented. Your hazard communication program should cover effective training on identifying chemical hazards, proper handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals, and the use of appropriate PPE. Learn how to conduct better safety inspections when handling and storing hazardous chemicals.
Charging stations in warehouse facilities are used to refuel or recharge all powered equipment to function. Units may be powered by gasoline, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), or battery. If proper guidelines are not followed, fires and explosions can occur.
- Charging stations should be away from open flames. Smoking should be prohibited. Fire extinguishers should be available and in good working condition in case of fire.
- An adequate ventilation system must be installed to disperse harmful gases. Proper PPE should be worn. Eye washing and shower facilities should be present should employees get exposed to acids and chemicals.
A Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program must be implemented in all warehouse operations to ensure that all energized equipment is properly shut off and prevent employees from being caught between mechanical parts or being electrocuted. All affected workers must be trained on LOTO procedures and how to apply and remove LOTO devices after performing maintenance. Check out this collection of digital LOTO checklists to learn more.
If safety procedures and workplace hazards are disregarded in warehouses to cut costs, it exposes workers to serious risks of accidents and injury. Providing workers training on hazard awareness, conducting safety inspections, and implementing safety measures can help maintain a safe, secure and healthy working environment.
Warehouse Safety Checklists
Regular warehouse inspections can help you be on top of potential risks present in your warehousing operations. A digital safety checklist can be a powerful tool to evaluate the overall safety of your warehouse. Download these free warehouse safety checklists using iAuditor the world’s #1 inspection software and app.