Working in the material handling industry can sometimes place employees in potentially dangerous situations. Safety awareness is paramount in mitigating risks to workers, products and the facility. Reducing the chance of peril is the paragon of effective workplace habits. However, there are a handful of simple steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of a hazardous scenario. Following are four of the most overlooked workplace hazards.

1. Not Being Aware of Surroundings

It is critical that employees pay attention to their surroundings at all times. Maintain a 360-degree perspective of all activities and operations, and be mindful of vehicular traffic in and around the premises. Distractions can easily impede any operation. For this reason, workers should focus their attention at all times on the task at hand. This is especially true when handling hazardous materials, dangerous substances or heavy goods that can potentially injure or kill someone.

2. Lack of Hydraulic Fluid in Forklifts

Hydraulic oil allows a forklift to raise and lower its lift platforms. To assure proper operation and prevent accidents during usage, it is important to routinely check the hydraulic fluid. In many instances, the fast-paced environments that often accompany forklift operation make this task seem counterproductive to efficiency and productivity goals. However, bubbly hydraulic oil or inadequate amounts can result in an immediate failure of the mechanisms and pose a threat to the safety and welfare of employees.  

3. Improper Handling of Unsafe Materials

Before handling any potentially volatile substance, be sure to use personal protective equipment and dress appropriately. Learning placard codes can also be a great asset to workers trying to determine the class of materials they are handling. Improperly handling these materials can result in a spill or contamination of the premises, the results of which can be devastating. By assuring proper handling of unsafe materials and adherence to all safety protocols, you can reduce the likelihood of a serious incident.

4. Dehydration

This hazard may be the most dangerous of all. Dehydrated workers are more likely to improperly handle materials and less likely to be aware of their surroundings. In addition, dehydrated workers are at high risk for heat stroke or cardiac-related complications. The severity of this situation can be exceptionally grave and ultimately place co-workers at risk as well. The tragedy of this is that dehydration can be easily prevented. Take frequent breaks and drink 12 ounces of water on those hot summer days.