Employees are exposed to a certain level of danger in all work zone areas. Even the smallest, careless mistake could result in serious bodily harm or a fatality. Every worker assumes a fair amount of risk when involved with a fork truck, warehouse or work zone; particularly the newly hired and younger workforce.
Main workplaces include:
Within these particular work zones, major injuries have occurred which contribute to half of all fatalities among them.
There are roughly 145,000 employees working in nearly 7,000 warehouses across America. Warehouse accidents affect the workers as well as the accommodating companies. Unfortunately, the injured worker will likely incur several lost work days due to ongoing health problems and/or injuries. Based on this data, it’s no wonder that more than 140 million lost work days ensued on account of sustained accidents. These numbers equate to 35 missed days of work for each accident. Furthermore, over 30% of the workforce believes their overall health is in jeopardy due to their job.
Work areas and situations where accidents are most likely to occur include:
- Material storage
- Conveyor belts and moving machinery
- Loading docks
- Areas with Lift trucks traffic
- People who manually lift heavy items and/or machinery
Common injuries that result from working in these work areas consist of:
- Forklift accidents
- Material handling mishaps
- Physical falls or tripping
- Repetitive motion type injuries such as reaching, lifting, pushing or pulling
Accidents Associated with Forklifts
Statistics show that among the accidents that occur throughout the United States, a total of 20,000 workers were injured relative to fork hoist and warehouses. One quarter of these were due to forklifts overturning and causing serious bodily harm. Sadly, more than 100 employees die each year as a result of warehouse and forklift related accidents. It’s true the percentage of accidents are high in America. However, people across the globe die every year in forklift accidents as well. This is a serious ongoing issue that must be addressed in order to save the lives of employees.
The Important Role of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
OSHA has the enormous task of attentively monitoring general safety standards and practices. Prior to the launch of OSHA in 1970, it was reported that 23,000 industrial-related deaths occurred out of the 38 million U.S workers in 1913. Between the years 1935 through 1960, 400,000 more deaths occurred. In addition to these numbers, people under the age of 60 had a 20% death increase as well. Subsequent to the founding of OSHA, these death ratios diminished by as much as 60%. From 1970 – 2009, these statistics plummeted from 14,400 down to 4,400; thereby proving that OSHA’s presence in the workforce has indeed made a huge impact on safety.
OSHA’s training integrates key safety standards that every service provider and employee is required to follow:
Warehouse Employee Guidelines
- Keep forklift traffic away from other employees if possible
- Wear reflective vests – they are a key safety tool
- Mirrors are a necessary integral part of any work area. Not only do they increase the worker’s visual range (blind corners), they successfully help to reduce the number of preventable accidents – much like the mirrors used for road safety tactics
- Warehouse workers should be notified of any guests or visitors to the warehouse area
- Keep the loading docks, aisles and any high traffic areas clear for forklift traffic flow
- PPE’s are essential components to your work and general safety.
– Warning alarms, sirens, flashing lights and horns all contribute to decreasing accidents by calling attention to nearby workers
Pallet Safety Standards
Frequently inspecting and properly maintaining pallets is crucial in order to safely use them in designated work areas and warehouses. It is vital that all pallets are manually inspected every day and replaced as needed. Even a small dent may severely give way and result in an inescapable injury.
The Most Common Reasons Why Pallets Breakdown
- Bears too much weight – overloading
- Using them incorrectly and not as intended
- Constant relocating and rearranging
- Forklift causes damage – overtime will split and crack from overuse
- Cut down on rack capacity to save costs
Loading Safety Measures
- Substantial loads should ideally be situated on middle shelf
- Only remove and transfer one individual item at a time
- Stack every load equally and evenly
The Cost of Compromising Safety
Working in a hazardous work environment is a serious risk. It is not only jeopardizing your health and perhaps your life, but it may also tax a heavy fine from OSHA should they find out about it.
The downside of working in unsafe work areas include:
- Decrease in productivity
- Loss of time
- Loss of money – OSHA can allocate serious fines – upwards of $70,000 or more
- Medical and health costs may reach $1,500,000
Be wary of your work surroundings and look out for the safety of all employees. Also, be mindful of your resources in case of hefty fines and always set an example as a compliant and respectful business.