Every job has its own set of risks, but working in a warehouse, in particular, may be quite dangerous, especially when the risks are less visible. Every year, workplace safety requirements expand, yet today’s workplaces can still be dangerous environments with several potential dangers. According to the 2020 Report on Work Fatality and Injury Rates in Canada, 1,027 workers died as a result of work-related causes in 2018, 76 more than in 2017.
If your business has warehouse facilities, you should be familiar with these common warehouse hazards and control measures.
Why Is Safety Important in a Warehouse?
Accidents at work affect not just the worker involved, but also their families and colleagues. A safe and productive work environment guarantees that all employees examine the full range of potential implications of an incident. Everyone wants to return home healthy and safe at the end of the day.
Top 8 Warehouse Hazards
While numerous aspects contribute to a safe workplace, adequate protection and awareness are the integral factors in reducing risk among employees. Here are 8 potential hazards in a warehouse environment:
- Falling objects
Workers at warehouses are particularly vulnerable to falling objects, so this is an issue that needs special attention. Staff must receive adequate training to ensure that they understand how to properly secure and move things kept at height, as well as how to adhere to safe stacking heights. It’s also common to have warning signs in strategic locations, as well as hard hats or other protective headgear for personnel.
- Fire safety
Because of the diverse stored commodities and packaging that can potentially start a fire, fire is one of the most serious risks to warehouse safety. Workplaces are required to have building permits, well-designated exits, fire extinguishers, and training for a reason — to reduce the risk of fire.
To avoid this main hazard, avoid exposing wires and, if necessary, cover them with non-flammable materials. Keep an eye out for any leaks, unidentified spills, or gases that could catch fire. A fire protection plan should be available at the warehouse and made available to warehouse personnel for review if the warehouse employs more than 10 people.
- Floor and surface conditions
When designing warehouse layouts, uneven grades and slopes should be avoided. They can be dangerous for pedestrians, and they’re extremely tough to manoeuvre for automobiles, especially while backing up and hauling heavy loads. Debris and other forms of clutter can obstruct pedestrian and vehicular transportation. When tools, packaging materials, stray power cables, and other items are left out, they not only provide tripping hazards but also take up valuable floor space. As a result, more cramped work environments are created, which are more prone to accidents.
- Forklifts and moving vehicles
Given the size of the vehicle and the fact that it runs in close range to other workers, forklift accidents are among the most severe kinds of warehouse accidents. A single blunder can be fatal. Drivers become accustomed to operating forklifts, which can lead to negligence in some circumstances.
You may either damage the forklift or racks, or in a worst-case scenario, you may strike someone. Overstacking a forklift is also a major concern. Mishandling materials may damage merchandise or tip the vehicle over, putting the driver and everyone else in the vicinity in danger.
- Hazardous Materials
Chemicals stored, handled, and disposed of incorrectly can lead to significant injury and property loss. There are far too many reports of warehouses catching fire as a result of chemicals reacting with one another or bad storage methods.
A hazard communication program should be created when handling hazardous substances in your warehouse or storage facility. It should include effective training on recognizing chemical risks, proper chemical handling, storage, and disposal, and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (personal protective equipment).
- Lifting and handling
One of the most prevalent warehouse injuries is lower back discomfort. Employees that manually handle materials, such as order picking and pallet handling, are at risk of injury. Back and shoulder discomfort is expected to account for 40 to 50% of all claims filed by warehouse workers.
When a person lifts heavy loads, the risk increases. You may easily make changes to your warehouse to reduce the number of such activities. Provide adequate training so that employees can lift objects safely. Also, never ask staff to move anything too heavy, and make sure they’re wearing the right shoes to avoid slipping when lifting.
- Slips, trips, and falls
Slips, trips, and falls are common problems in warehouses. A variety of reasons can contribute to slippery surfaces, including seeping oil or grease from adjacent mechanical equipment, spilled liquids, leaking containers, and other seasonal conditions. Mats made of rubber or other synthetic materials can help ensure proper grip in standing and pedestrian areas, but they must be kept tight and free of folding and curling, which can cause tripping risks.
- Storage racks
Efficient and durable racks and storage are the foundation of any warehouse. Racks arrange and store all of the company’s products in a space-saving, structured way, ensuring maximum accessibility at all times. Despite being constructed with heavy-duty materials, if they are not secured, they can cause significant damage in the case of a collapse. Height is a major risk factor for stored inventory. Any objects or bins that are not securely stored, whether they are crates of bricks or pillows, pose a danger to the unsuspecting employees below.
Tips and Best Practices
Regardless of the type of business or industry, here are some safety tips in the warehouse you must follow:
- Always emphasize optimal ergonomics
Ergonomics in the workplace should be addressed in your warehouse safety program. Remind staff to maintain appropriate posture in general, in addition to proper lifting and use of tools and equipment. If they must do the manual lifting, teach them safe lifting techniques to protect their backs and knees from harm.
- Ensure that all safety measures are in place
If you operate a warehouse, you most likely have all of the essential fire alarms, extinguishers, and sprinklers in place to comply with local safety standards. Make sure that warehouse workers are trained in how to utilize them properly. Plan regular training and inspections to ensure that all staff is familiar with fire safety procedures and that all fire safety devices are in place and working properly.
- Enforce safe handling of hazardous objects
Workers at warehouses perform several packing and unloading duties, and they frequently use corrugated, metal, and plastic straps, as well as plastic pallet wrappings. To avoid major injury or death, they must utilize suitable protection. Wherever possible, reinforce racks and storage and install guards and railings for added protection
- Discuss and review safety protocol with your team
Establishing and sustaining warehouse safety protocols is a continuous process of identifying and eliminating barriers to safe work in the warehouse. Apart from having the necessary certifications and training, holding monthly warehouse training sessions or discussions can help engage staff members, create collaboration, and develop a culture of safety.
Warehouse productivity and safety are inextricably linked. Because lost worker hours, damaged products, and equipment maintenance all eat into the bottom line, having a genuine approach to safety entails much more than simply complying with regulations.
Protect your workers and provide them with considerable control of forklifts. For trusted Forklift Rear Post and Forklift Rear Guard in Toronto, Lakeport Metalcraft introduces The Backbone! Contact us at 416.587.5809 to learn more.