According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.8 of every full-time warehouse workers in the United States are injured yearly. As such, warehouse safety should be a top priority for employers and their employees alike.
However, warehouse accidents can still be a common occurrence which can lead to severe injuries or worst, accidental deaths.
If you are a warehouse owner, it is important to know and understand the common causes of warehouse accidents and how to prevent them from happening.
In this guide, we will talk about some of the most common warehouse accidents and how to avoid them.
1. Forklift Accidents
Forklift accidents are one of the most common types of warehouse accidents, with approximately 34,900 occurring annually. In fact, there’s a staggering 90% probability of a forklift being involved in a serious injury or fatality accident over its useful lifetime.
These accidents can lead to serious injuries, broken bones, and even fatalities, making it crucial for warehouse workers to be aware of the common causes and how to avoid them.
Common Causes of Forklift Accidents
- Inadequate training: Operators who haven’t received proper training are more likely to make mistakes, leading to accidents.
- Speeding: Driving too fast can cause the forklift to tip over or collide with other objects.
- Overloading: Carrying loads that exceed the forklift’s capacity can make it unstable and prone to tipping.
- Poor visibility: Not being able to see clearly due to obstructions or poor lighting can lead to collisions.
- Mechanical failure: Faulty equipment or parts can cause accidents if not maintained properly.
How to Avoid Forklift Accidents
To prevent warehouse accidents and injuries involving forklifts, consider the following tips:
- Proper Training: Ensure all forklift operators receive thorough training and certification and are regularly updated on safety guidelines.
- Follow Speed Limits: Encourage operators to adhere to the designated speed limits within the warehouse, and enforce them when necessary.
- Load Management: Always check the forklift’s capacity and ensure loads are within the recommended limits. Distribute the weight evenly to maintain stability.
- Maintain Visibility: Keep the warehouse well-lit and clear any obstructions that could impede visibility. Operators should also use their horns to alert others of their presence.
- Regular Maintenance: Conduct routine inspections and maintenance on forklifts to ensure they are in good working condition. Address any mechanical issues immediately to prevent accidents.
2. Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
Another common cause of warehouse injuries is slip, trip, and fall accidents. These types of workplace accidents can result in a range of injuries, from minor bruises to broken bones or even more severe consequences.
Falling objects, improperly stored items on pallet racks, and poor lifting techniques can all contribute to these accidents.
How to Avoid Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
- Safety Training: Implement comprehensive safety training programs for all employees. This should include proper lifting techniques, hazard identification, and guidance on how to safely navigate the warehouse environment.
- Housekeeping: Regularly clean and maintain the warehouse floors, ensuring they are free of spills, debris, and other hazards that could cause slips or trips.
- Pallet Rack Maintenance: Inspect and maintain pallet racks regularly to prevent falling objects. Ensure items are stored securely and within the recommended weight limits.
- Proper Footwear: Encourage employees to wear slip-resistant footwear to reduce the risk of slipping on wet or oily surfaces.
- Signage: Use clear and visible signage to indicate potential hazards, such as wet floors or areas where lifting is required.
3. Hazardous Chemicals
Aside from fall injuries, hazardous materials are another significant contributor to general industry accidents in warehouses. The improper handling, storage, or disposal of these materials can lead to severe health risks, such as chemical burns, respiratory issues, and other long-term health problems.
It’s crucial to follow the guidelines set by health administration agencies to protect workers from these hazards.
How to Avoid Hazardous Material Accidents
- Proper Training: Ensure all employees who handle hazardous materials receive comprehensive training on the correct procedures, including how to use the right equipment and personal protective gear.
- Stay Focused: Encourage workers to remain vigilant and avoid distractions when handling hazardous materials, as losing focus can lead to accidents.
- Labeling and Storage: Clearly label hazardous materials and store them in designated areas, away from general workspaces and traffic.
- Emergency Preparedness: Develop and regularly review emergency response plans for dealing with hazardous material incidents, including spill containment and evacuation procedures.
- Safety Equipment: Provide workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling hazardous materials, such as gloves, goggles, and respirators.
4. Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries are those that occur when a worker performs the same motion repeatedly, leading to strain on muscles, tendons, and nerves. These injuries are a common warehouse accident and can have a significant impact on the occupational safety and health of employees.
In most warehouses, workers are required to perform tasks such as lifting, bending, and reaching, which can contribute to the development of these injuries over time.
How to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries
- Ergonomics: Design workspaces and tasks with ergonomics in mind, ensuring that employees can perform their job with minimal strain on their bodies.
- Job Rotation: Rotate workers between different tasks to reduce the amount of repetitive motion they perform daily.
- Training: Provide training on proper lifting techniques, posture, and body mechanics to help workers avoid strain and injury.
- Breaks: Encourage employees to take regular breaks and stretch throughout the day to relieve muscle tension and reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
- Early Intervention: Monitor workers for signs of repetitive stress injuries and address any issues early on to prevent long-term damage.
5. Caught Between Objects
Since warehouse jobs often involve working with heavy machinery and large objects, one of the most common warehouse accidents is getting caught between objects. These injuries occur when workers’ fingers, hands, or feet become trapped between objects, such as machinery, pallets, or lift trucks.
The warehousing industry is full of dangerous places where these accidents can happen, so it’s essential to be aware of the common causes and how to prevent them.
Common Causes of Caught-Between-Object Accidents
- Inadequate training: Workers who aren’t properly trained in using machinery or equipment are more likely to get caught between objects.
- Poor communication: Lack of communication between workers can lead to accidents when one person is unaware of another’s actions or position.
- Lack of safety equipment: Missing or improperly used safety equipment, such as machine guards, can increase the risk of accidents.
- Cluttered workspaces: A disorganized warehouse with objects or materials stored haphazardly can create dangerous situations.
How to Prevent Caught-Between Object Accidents
- Training: Provide comprehensive training for all workers on the safe use of machinery and equipment, as well as the potential hazards they may encounter.
- Communication: Encourage open communication between workers, especially when working in close proximity or with heavy machinery. Use signals or warning devices to alert others of potential hazards.
- Safety Equipment: Ensure that all machinery and equipment have the appropriate safety guards in place and that workers know how to use them properly.
- Workspace Organization: Maintain a clean and organized warehouse, with materials and objects stored safely and securely to prevent accidents.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Provide workers with proper PPE, such as gloves and steel-toed boots, to protect them from potential caught-between-object accidents.
Preventing common injuries in the warehouse is crucial for maintaining a safe and efficient work environment. By addressing the various causes of accidents and implementing appropriate safety measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and create a more productive workspace.
Don’t lose focus on safety; instead, invest in the right equipment and training to protect your employees.
Read our Warehouse Safety Tips to learn more.
At Storage Equipment Systems, we offer a wide range of warehouse equipment, including racks, shelving, and conveyors to help with your warehouse organization. As the largest inventory holder of warehouse equipment in Arizona, we are committed to helping you create a safer and more efficient warehouse.