3 tips to help warehouse workers avoid unnecessary injury

The warehouse environment presents a number of unusual hazards, from falls to electrical shocks, which can take a huge toll on employees in Pottsville and other areas. In 2014 alone, over 3,300 warehouse workers throughout Pennsylvania suffered work-related injuries. Fortunately, in many cases, workers may be able to prevent or minimize these injuries by understanding and employing best practices.

1. Focus on ergonomics

The lifting and repetitive motions that warehouse workers perform can put them at serious risk for overexertion or repetitive stress injuries. Not surprisingly, in 2014, overexertion was the leading cause of injuries among Pennsylvania warehouse employees, accounting for over 45 percent of these injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that workers take the following steps to reduce these injuries:

  • Ask coworkers for assistance if an item is too heavy to lift independently.
  • Utilize lifting equipment, if it is available, instead of manually lifting weighty items.
  • Avoid making twisting motions while carrying heavier objects.

When possible, employees should also utilize ergonomic practices and workspace designs that minimize the need for prolonged lifts or awkward motions. For example, placing a shelf at waist height rather than floor height may reduce the strain associated with moving items onto or off of the shelf.

2. Use equipment properly

Employees in warehouses often work with forklifts, conveyor belts and other mechanical equipment that has potential to cause serious injuries. Per OSHA, it is essential for employers to cover up pinch points and enforce the use of proper lockout/tagout procedures. These protocols can prevent equipment from coming on unexpectedly and injuring workers.

Employers should also require thorough training on the use of equipment that is frequently involved in serious accidents. As an example, nationally, warehouse forklift accidents play a role in about 100 deaths and over 95,000 injuries each year. Therefore, OSHA recommends that employers conduct regular evaluations and only permit workers to operate forklifts if they are trained and certified to do so.

3. Store objects safely

Workers should also be careful to store potentially dangerous items in designated safe spaces. Heavier loads should be placed on lower shelves to minimize the consequences of a spill or fall. At all times, walkways and floor areas should be kept clear of tripping hazards. Additionally, hazardous chemicals should be placed away from high-traffic areas.

Getting help after accidents

Unfortunately, even with these best practices, many warehouse workers may suffer costly and debilitating injuries. In some cases, these injuries may qualify a person to receive workers' compensation benefits. Victims of warehouse accidents may benefit from speaking to an attorney to learn more about the recompense that they may be entitled to.