A warehouse is meant to be a place where goods can be stored safely. Unfortunately, warehouses are not always safe places for workers. From fires to falls, warehouse hazards have the potential to injure and even kill.
For example, forklifts—the ones you find buzzing around almost every kind of storage facility—were involved in 54 fatal accidents in the United States in 2017 and over 30,000 incidents per year causing serious injury. A quick search for “forklift” on WorkSafeBC’s website brings up page after page of reports on fatalities and serious injuries. For the past five years, powered industrial trucks (which include forklifts and motorized hand trucks) have ranked within the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations list published by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
According to the article “Top 10 Health and Safety Issues in the Warehouse,” forklifts are only one of the many potential dangers that warehouse workers face every day, which also include:
- working with heavy equipment
- handling heavy materials
- dealing with hazardous materials
- slips, trips, and falls
- falling objects
While achieving an accident-free workplace should be the goal of everyone who works there, responsibility for creating a culture of safety as well as for training falls heaviest on supervisors. SafetyDriven’s course and guide, Managing and Supervising Safely Warehouse, provides an excellent foundation for supervisors, featuring a toolkit of skills for managing safety on a day-to-day basis specifically within a warehouse setting. As the introduction points out: “A warehouse is a dynamic work environment where site conditions can change quickly, requiring strong hazard management. As well, workers come and go frequently, and the supervisor must ensure adequate ongoing training and orientation so that everyone on site can work safely.”
The course covers four modules:
- Legal Responsibilities: What are a supervisor’s responsibilities for safety?
- Toolkit for Tasks: How can a supervisor fulfill these responsibilities effectively?
- Documentation: How does a supervisor demonstrate that they have fulfilled these responsibilities?
- Incident Response: What should a supervisor do when things go wrong?
In addition to this course, managers, supervisors, and workers can also find many other resources on the SafetyDriven site that address common warehouse safety issues.
- “Warehouse Hazards” – interactive graphic
- “Spot the Hazard Challenge: Warehouse” – interactive photo graphic
- “Site Safety Plan, The Basics” – article
- “7 common workplace safety hazards” – poster
Working around and with forklifts and other heavy equipment:
- “Forklift Safety: Stay in the Cab, Stay Alive” – video
- “Walking around forklifts” – 5 key reminders
- “Fields of Vision – Pedestrian Safety around Forklifts” – video
- “Work safely near forklifts” – article
- “Distractions, distractions and more distractions” – article
- “Forklift Tips Over, Crushing Operator” – slide show
Handling heavy materials and ergonomics:
Manual Material Handling – a webpage listing resources on manual material handling
Dealing with hazardous materials:
“Facing Harmful Chemicals Unexpectedly” – article
“One Rule, Two Rule….” – article
Slips, trips, and falls:
“Trips, Slips & Falls ” – safety talk
“Working at Heights” – key points and resource list
“Fire Safety at Home and at Work” – article
“Be prepared! Fire doesn’t ‘kid’ around” – poster
We also have many free online courses available on these topics.
Being warehouse aware means understanding the many ways warehouse workers can be injured on the job and taking clear steps to prevent accidents from happening. Let’s aim to make warehouses safe spaces for everyone.
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