Every workplace presents potential dangers, but few are as hazardous to your health as a warehouse environment. Whenever heavy lifting, manual labor and using industrial machinery factor into the job duties, the risk of injury increases, as does the severity.
Although there are many explicit and well-marked dangers in a warehouse setting, the lesser-known ones may prove to be the most dangerous. Here’s a list of five overlooked warehouse hazards and tips to avoid them.
1. Tripping/slippery floors: With so much warehouse activity going on at eye-level or above, it can be easy to forget what’s happening on the ground. Any liquid spilled on a concrete floor creates an extra slippery surface, but the common liquids found in warehouses—water, cleaning solutions—are virtually invisible. A fall onto hard concrete is dangerous by itself, but if you’re carrying something heavy, the results can be deadly.
Cleanliness is essential to a safe warehouse. Preventing warehouse spills will drastically improve the workplace safety. If spills do occur, make sure there’s an immediate and regulated procedure to clear hazards before anyone can get hurt.
2. Falling inventory: The capacity of warehouses makes them ideal for storing large objects. To utilize vertical space, these objects are often stacked on pallet racks. If a racking system fails or becomes overloaded with weight, unsuspecting workers can become victims of falling inventory.
The best way to avoid falling hazards is to know the weight limits for pallet racks and using proper stacking techniques.
3. Body strain: Body strain is a hazard in any situation where manual labor is necessary to complete duties. Injuries caused by pronged exertion are hidden hazards because the effects aren’t immediately apparent. Back injuries caused by improper lifting techniques, for example, can cause life-long pain.
Learning ergonomic practices is a good way to prevent body injury. Also, knowing your weight limits will reduce the chance of injury. The warehouse environment can fuel competition when it comes to strength, but preserving your body is much more important than proving how strong you are.
4. Improper machinery use: Warehouses are filled with complex and heavy machinery, including forklifts, conveyor belts, and loading trucks. Usually, there are strict guidelines for operating these machines, but there’s always the risk for human error. When employees are careless or even complacent while performing duties, the chance for deadly hazards increases.
The best way to prevent injuries around heavy machinery is providing boundaries between spaces occupied by heavy machinery and employees.
5. Fatigue: Sleepiness, tired eyes, and general fatigue are ingredients for a potential warehouse hazard. When your attention wanes, it’s easy to find yourself cutting corners or performing at less than 100%. This, obviously, not only puts you at risk but puts co-workers at risk as well.
Taking regular breaks is a good way to keep your mind focused and alert. If breaks aren’t working, let your supervisor know.