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Warehouses are full of undeniable hazards, with some more obvious than others. Typically, the major hazards are clearly identifiable and well-known. However, it is the lesser known dangers that can be the deadliest, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. Below are a few common warehouse hazards that you and your staff should be careful not to overlook.
Tripping, slipping and falling hazards can be very dangerous because they are not always easy to spot. Take a puddle, for example. Even in a well-lit warehouse, liquid on the floor can be virtually invisible. Sawdust is another culprit that can go unnoticed. Similarly, a naturally slick surface, such as a buffed concrete floor, can result in a dangerous fall. Keep in mind that a fall does not have to be from a high position to be dangerous. Even a backward fall on a level surface can severely injure a person, especially if he or she is carrying something.
Cleanliness and awareness are crucial to prevent slips. Caution signs should be visible in working areas, and workers should be aware of the materials that are likely to be on the floor. Use guard railings in high locations, anti-slip tape on steps and ledges, and safety mats in problem areas.
Bodily strain can be difficult to identify because each worker’s body type is different. You cannot always predict when a person will buckle under the pressure or how much prolonged exposure to labor will result in injury for a particular individual. Back and foot injuries are especially common in a warehouse setting.
Personal awareness is your best defense against these types of injuries. Employees should know their limits and have the freedom to alert a supervisor if they feel at risk. For injury prevention, all warehouse employees should be trained in proper lifting techniques. Investing in ergonomic equipment can also help relieve workers from the stress and strain of repetitive lifting, bending, twisting and stretching.
Even the most skilled machinist can grow complacent or careless over time. Many machines have moving components that can be dangerous if safety precautions are not implemented. For this reason, warning labels should be placed in strategic and prominent locations. Anyone in the vicinity of a heavy machine should know the specific risks. Warehouse staff should also understand the importance of heeding the cautions of all warning labels. Regular retraining can help remind staff to always be alert.
Storage and racking systems can also pose potential dangers. Even a properly stationed pallet rack does not guarantee that product will not fall from the shelves. Forklift collisions are common in warehouse settings, and as a result careful attention is required when moving in and out of aisles situated between pallet racks.
Once again, proper training will help to prevent accidents involving storage and racking systems. Only trained employees should have access to areas in the vicinity of these systems. Employees should also know the limits of the pallet racking systems to avoid overloading them.
A loading dock is the site of the most traffic in your warehouse. Although it appears harmless, injuries in this location are prevalent. Typical loading dock injuries involve being pinned between a forklift and a dock or between the dock and a truck or trailer.
Traffic flow within the loading dock area is critical. Vehicle and foot traffic areas should be clearly labeled. Employees on the ground should be trained on the risks of not being seen by drivers. Drivers should also be attentive to the people around them. Be sure that your warehouse loading dock has adequate mirrors so that drivers can see everything in their vicinity. Finally, all loading dock workers should be dressed in attire that clearly alerts others to their presence.