All workplaces contain hazards. Warehouses are no exception. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not provide a particular set of standards for warehouse work. Instead, employers should use the general OSHA regulations to create a safe workplace for their employees.
What dangers are there in a warehouse?
- Fire: These can spread quickly throughout a warehouse. Employers should ensure adequate fire detection and prevention systems as well as carrying out regular fire drills.
- Slips and falls: Surfaces can become slippery due to cleaning or the passage of wet workers’ boots in rainy weather.
- Electrical: Power cables must be safely installed and kept out of the way of people and vehicles. There should be easily accessible ways to turn power off in an emergency.
- Conveyor belts: Safety guards must be installed and functioning to prevent clothing, hair or body parts from becoming caught up.
- Forklifts: Most warehouses contain fleets of forklifts scuttling throughout the building. Drivers must have appropriate training and certification. There should be defined routes and barriers may be needed to block access to an area they are working in.
- Vans and trucks: A steady flow of vehicles is necessary to bring and take away goods. There should be a safe route in place and slow speed limits.
- Falling loads: Space is maximized in warehouses by loading shelves high. It does not take much to knock a box off, or a whole set of boxes off. A badly driven forklift could even knock over a poorly installed shelving unit.
- Manual lifting: Despite the prominence of forklifts, you may still need to lift heavy boxes. Proper training on technique can reduce the risk of back injuries.
If you suffer a workplace accident, you will need compensation. Your employer should hold workers’ compensation insurance. It covers medical expenses, lost wages and rehabilitation. You might also consider further action to compensate you for pain and suffering. An attorney can help you file your claim and ensure you get the payout you need.