We have never relied on the availability and timely delivery of goods as much as we do today because of the world’s epidemic of coronavirus and continuous military operations. As the global economy is trying to regain its equilibrium in the realm of unprecedented sanctions and counter-sanctions, warehouse staff are working hard to ensure the supply chain remains uninterrupted, and consumers are never bereft of the primary commodities.
While the prosperity of various business sectors is unthinkable without partnerships with the storage houses, the warehousing industry is among the most dangerous employments for Americans as stated in the 2018 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To safeguard the lives and health of warehouse participants, the USA government established a special authority that introduces and monitors the observance of storehouse safety and hygiene practices. This authority is called OSHA.
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration U.S. Department of Labor. This governing body is focused on assuring the safety and health of American workers by establishing and enforcing workplace safety standards.
Potential Workplace Hazards of Warehouses
In particular, OSHA seeks to prevent injuries, illnesses, and lethal outcomes at workplaces. According to OSHA, the fatal injury rate for the warehouse sector is higher than the national average for other sectors.
Common hazards for workers in storage facilities generally include:
- Unsafe exploitation of forklifts: nearly one hundred employees are killed and 95,000 get injured every year while operating forklifts in all industries. Forklift turnovers make a significant percentage of these accidents.
- Poor hazard communication: there is a risk of chemical burns if spills of hazardous materials occur.
- Insufficient fire safety provisions. The absence or deficit of fire safety gear may increase the negative consequences of blames, fumes, and explosions at the workplace.
- Injuries from manual lifting/handling: bodily injuries may occur from improper lifting or overexertion.
- Inadequate ergonomics: inappropriate lifting, repetitive motion, or poor design of operations can result in musculoskeletal disorders in warehouse members.
- Improper stacking of boxes and containers with goods: improperly stored materials may fall and injure workers.
Failure to use good personal protective equipment. Storage house operations management needs to conduct a site hazard evaluation to determine what personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn based on the potential risks and train the staff to correctly wear PPE.
- Negligence to observe proper lockout/tagout techniques. Team members can receive serious or fatal injuries if the machinery they are utilizing or operating suddenly starts, malfunctions, or releases stored energy.
- Docks: injuries occur when forklifts run off the dock, products drop on workers or equipment strikes a person.
- Charging stations: there is risk of fire and explosions unless proper guidelines are observed.
OSHA implements and regulates health-protecting standards for warehouse employees. This entity controls that people working in the warehousing space follow the best practices, and their workplaces are fully secure. This organization conducts regular safety audits to verify that each given warehouse unceasingly sticks to the best practices stipulated.
Life-Saving Tips for Warehouse Associates
Never forget about PPE
Personal protective gear typically consists of respirators, protective coveralls, goggles, hard hats, flame retardant clothing, steel-toed boots, earplugs, leather gloves among other things. Warehouse associates are typically given protective gear by their employer when they sign an employment contract. But temporary workers that are outsourced through on-demand staffing apps like BUSY can also come into work having their own personal safety apparel.
Report injuries ASAP
Even a seemingly inconsequential injury must be reported to the associated supervisor, including a minor cut or slipping up. If a worker has been carefully following the imposed safety requirements, there cannot be any reason for an injury. In this occurrence, it means that some equipment or a stage of a work process may be faulty and requires immediate treatment.
Learn emergency protocols
All warehouse workers must complete training regarding vital safety protocols during emergencies. In particular, the warehouse staff must be trained on such matters as evacuation procedures, firefighting, hazard communications, and more. Get to know with all facility emergency protocols established for the warehouse where you work. If they are not provided to you, ask your supervisor to let you get acquainted with them.
Do only what you are trained/licensed to do
This is one of the main principles in OSHA’s worker safety series. This authority states that under no circumstances should an employee try to complete a duty for which they have not yet been fully trained or licensed, especially when it comes to operating a machine. In other words, if your manager asks you to do an operation that is not within your competence and not specified in your employment agreement, never attempt to perform it.
Mind the aisles
Aisle ways are considered one of the most dangerous areas inside a warehouse facility. They resemble the “streets” of a big city with intensive traffic, along which material-handling machines move. A warehouse worker must be highly attentive when crossing or moving along the aisles.
Use safe lifting techniques
Heavy lifting in warehouse environments presents a serious safety concern. American warehouses are mandated to follow the safety heavy lifting rules and train their employees on this issue. If you are an on-demand contractor or a gig worker, you may have no opportunity to complete this special training. In such a scenario, you may study the OSHA standards and requirements for ergonomics by yourself.
Notice unsafe behavior
When all safety requirements are properly observed, the risk of an accident in a warehouse environment is minimal. Yet, if you see someone in your workplace neglect the established safety protocols, it is in your best interests to report such behavior to your manager. Even the most insignificant breach of requirements (such as a failure to put on personal safety equipment) may carry bad consequences.
Let OSHA know
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, an employee can file a complaint and ask OSHA to conduct a workplace inspection if they deem there is a safety hazard or their employer does not meet OSHA standards. Moreover, the worker does not need to be certain that the safety protocol has actually been violated. If you have the smallest reason to assume that the warehouse is not adhering to the established warehouse safety and health requirements, feel free to submit a complaint with this governing authority using the Internet, fax, mail, or by phone.
OSHA Warehouses General Safety Guidelines
For the overall safety of the warehouse workforce, OSHA offers the following recommendations:
- Consider good work practices when determining how long it takes an employee to complete a task.
- Immediately remove any hazards that can result in trips, slips, or falls from the floors, aisles, and surfaces.
- Introduce proper lockout/tagout procedures.
- Lock out open or exposed loading dock doors and any area where a person may fall more than 4 feet.
- Let employees who perform physical work take periodic breaks.
Make sure your storehouse facilities are properly ventilated.
Teach newly-hired employees to stick to proper ergonomics – for general use and specific tasks.
- Educate the personnel on how to work safely in changing environmental conditions (for example, the differences of work when the temperature is hot and cold).
How to Get Ready for a Warehouse Emergency
We’ve given some tips for workplace safety in a warehouse, but what if bad news strikes? OSHA offers emergency prevention recommendations to make sure your staff is well-prepared to respond to a disaster.
Several precautions should be observed in all workplaces in case of any force-majeure situation:
- A secure outdoor gathering point
- Fully stocked medical first-aid kits
- Lists of emergency contacts
- Lists of equipment and machines to be immediately disabled in case of a disaster
- Modern fire extinguishers
- Ubiquitous evacuation plans
Hire the Best On-Demand Warehouse Workers
The ability to meet the demand and stay agile in the ever-changing market environment is a key to success for every company today. Consumers don’t wish to waste their precious time waiting for the ordered goods to be delivered.
As with many other industries, storage units offer many employment opportunities, but the labor force to fill those vacancies is scarce. A shortage of experienced workers in supply chains can lead to an increase in accidents, injuries, and even deaths, not to mention the economic consequences. Stay free from this trouble.
Whether you are looking for a temporary, seasonal, or gig job, we have you covered. BUSY bridges the gap between employers and capable candidates. We make it possible to quickly fill vacancies with ready-to-work, pre-vetted talents. With BUSY, you can choose from a variety of warehouse employees with all the competencies and skills needed to get the job done, from forklift drivers to packers. Build a strong warehouse workforce to support your daily workflows and achieve your business goals.