Warehouse Safety

Date: January 20, 2022

Greg Anderson, Risk Control Consultant

6 Common Hazards and How to Reduce Your Risk

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently over 1,400,000 workers that work in warehouses and storage facilities. In 2019, 24 fatalities occurred within the industry. Warehouses present a variety of hazards that can lead to injuries, illnesses, and even death. Learn more about six common warehouse hazards and how to reduce your risk.

#1 - Unsafe Use of a Forklift

Forklifts are used in warehouses to push, pull, lift, carry, or stack materials. The National Safety Council reports that forklifts were the source of 78 work-related deaths and 7,290 non-fatal injuries involving days away from work in 2020. Remember, never operate a forklift without proper training.

Reduce the Risk:

  • Train, evaluate, and certify all operators to ensure they can operate forklifts safely.
  • No one under 18 years old may operate a forklift.
  • Properly maintain equipment. Examine the forklift for hazardous conditions before use.
  • Only handle loads within the forklift's capacity limits. Follow safe procedures for picking up, putting down, and stacking loads.
  • Drive slowly, especially in congested areas or on wet, slippery surfaces.
  • When operating sit-down rider forklifts, always wear a seatbelt.

#2 - Improper Stacking of Products

When loads are not stacked correctly, they can be hazardous and lead to costly and unnecessary cargo damage.

Reduce the Risk:

  • Stack lighter items on top of heavier items. Place heavier loads on lower or middle shelves.
  • Keep aisles and passageways clear.
  • Do not stack objects near exit signs, fire extinguishers, or alarm switches. Keep items away from aisles and evacuation routes clear.
  • Items stacked on pallets should not stick out past the pallet's sides.

#3 - Failure to Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

OSHA has developed regulations to address PPE worn in the workplace. PPE should fit correctly, be appropriate for the job, and be in good condition.

Reduce the Risk:

  • When working at the warehouse, wear proper PPE such as gloves, long sleeves, eye protection, steel-toed safety shoes or boots, metatarsal guards, hard hats, and dusk masks.

#4 - Failure to Follow Proper Lockout/Tagout

A detailed lockout/tagout program ensures that nobody gets injured and no machinery is damaged.

Reduce the Risk:

  • Develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program.
  • Employees must learn and understand the process. Mandate regular training.
  • Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.

#5 - Inadequate Fire Safety Provisions

Fires are possible. Prepare employees by emphasizing your procedures for fire safety and emergency evacuation.

Reduce the Risk:

  • Everyone must be aware of their role in the warehouse emergency action plan.
  • Know the locations of all exits and safe assembly areas.
  • Recognize alarm signals.
  • Keep floors and aisles clear.
  • Never block fire extinguishers, pull alarms, exit doors, and emergency equipment.
  • Know the locations and how to use fire extinguishers.

#6 - Back Injuries

Improper lifting or overexertion may cause back injuries. Employees should use powered equipment when possible.

Reduce the Risk:

  • Train employees on ergonomics and task-specific jobs.
  • Estimate the load's weight, size, and bulk before lifting.
  • Use proper lifting techniques. Use your legs and keep your back straight. Take small steps and shift your feet, rather than twisting.
  • Ask for help when the load is heavy, large, or bulky.
  • Minimize the need for lifting by using equipment instead.
  • Take rest breaks when performing repetitive lifting.

BITCO Insurance is here to help ensure the environment your employees work in is safe. For more ideas on how to reduce your exposure to losses, contact your Risk Control Consultant. To locate a BITCO agent near you, click the "Find an Agent" button below.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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