Nearly 1.3 million Americans work in the warehousing and storage industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-fatal injuries among U.S. warehouse workers rose about 38% from 2015 to 2019. In Texas, more than 4,500 warehouse workers were injured, and ten employees died in work-related incidents. These warehouse safety tips can help reduce the risks:
1 Wear the right gear.
Always wear protective clothing, including hardhats, safety goggles, high-visibility vests, gloves, and proper footwear. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that can get caught in equipment.
2 Keep the job site clean.
A clean, well-maintained warehouse is a safe warehouse. When unpacking material, immediately dispose of any debris. Encourage workers to clean up after themselves and to empty trash cans before they overfill. If a liquid spills on the floor, clean it up immediately. There is less risk of slips, trips, and falls when workspaces are clean.
3 Stack straight.
Improperly stacked objects can fall and cause injuries. Stack loads evenly and straight. Heavier loads should be on lower or middle shelves. Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair. Paint walls or posts to show maximum stacking height. Keep a safe clearance overhead and in aisleways when mechanical handling is used.
4 Avoid manual lifting.
When possible, use powered equipment instead of manual lifting. Ensure all workers know when and how to use lifting equipment. Test the load weight, size, and bulk before deciding the best way to lift. Avoid twisting while carrying a load.
5 Provide regular training.
New hire and annual training is essential to a safe warehouse. Review safety policies often for other common causes of worker injuries, such as forklifts overturning, people struck by powered equipment, and chemical splashes. Post safety policies and emergency procedures in visible locations. Regular communication is vital if employees are to feel valued and know their role in the workplace.
To help create a safe and productive work environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a Warehousing Worker Safety Series publication covering the most common hazards in a warehouse setting. OSHA also provides many forklift safety resources. Safety training specialists at the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation-Workplace Safety offer customized, low-cost warehouse safety training. For more information, call 1-800-252-7031, option 2, or visit www.txsafetyatwork.com.