Whether you’re working with plastic pallets or traditional wooden ones, warehouses can certainly be dangerous environments to work in. As a result, it is imperative to identify the most common areas for warehouse safety hazards, taking the proper precautions to prevent accidents going forward. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 16 deaths every year in US warehouses, with 5% of employees reporting injuries or sickness in the sector too.
Although we recommend you to use plastic pallets due to their robustness and safety, there are many other things you need to watch out for too. Here we highlight 8 common areas for warehouse safety hazards.
Loading docks can be potentially deadly, especially if a worker becomes trapped between a forklift truck and the dock. This is not uncommon, especially when a forklift accidentally runs off the dock and into the trajectory of another person. If you’re operating a forklift, be sure to drive carefully on the dock plates, making sure that the dock edges are able to support loads and that they are clear.
Although forklifts are essential for the vast majority of warehousing, whether you’re using plastic pallets or wooden ones, they can also be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. According to the OSHA, using forklifts incorrectly is the most common workplace hazard when it comes to warehousing, and for good reason! All forklift drivers should be fully-trained and certified in operating the machinery safely, preferably being provided with regular “refresher” training sessions to jog their memories keep safety procedures top of mind. Daily inspections should also be conducted, looking for signs of forklift damage or wear and tear.
3. Conveyor belts
It’s not hard for workers to become entangled in conveyor equipment if they’re not careful, and they can also be hit by falling objects if the conveyor machinery malfunctions. To help combat these dangers, workers should ensure that their clothing or hair etc. cannot become loose and get entangled in the machine, and employers should make sure that their conveyor equipment is properly maintained.
If shelves are not stacked correctly, there is a chance that materials may become dislodged and fall to the floor, posing falling dangers and trip hazards to workers. When stacking shelves, always make sure that heavier goods are placed on lower or middle shelves, ensuring that the structure’s center of gravity is kept as low as possible. This makes it much less likely that the shelves will collapse or topple over.
If your warehouse deals with dangerous chemicals, be sure to implement a suitable hazard communication program which educates your employees on how to use, store, and dispose of chemicals. You should provide appropriate PPE for your workers when handling chemicals, and ensure that they know what the various safety labels mean.
6. Energized equipment
In your warehouse operations, you must be sure to implement a Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program which ensures that your energized equipment is properly shut down when not in use. Energized equipment, if left running, could pose threats to employees, such as electrocuting themselves or becoming unexpectedly caught in the machinery. LOTO procedures should be taught to all relevant employees, ensuring that they understand how to use and shut down LOTO energized equipment when necessary. Also, energized equipment should be subject to regular safety inspections, ensuring that the electrical equipment is properly wired and not dangerous to use.
7. Handling equipment
Improper manual lifting and handling is one of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace, so you must ensure that your employees and handling goods and boxes according to the guidelines. Not lifting or handling goods correctly can cause musculoskeletal problems down the road, as well as leading to fatigue and back pains. Sometimes lifting can be eradicated by the use of machinery, although this is not always possible. In other cases, it may be best for 2 people to carry a load instead of 1, especially if it is particularly heavy.
Wooden pallets, which many warehouses still use, present a myriad of hazards for warehouse workers. Not only are they prone to splintering wood which can cause cuts and infections, but they also often have nails sticking out of them which can cause further injury to unsuspecting workers. Replacing them with plastic pallets is the best solution, as plastic cannot hurt your warehouse employees and it is also incredibly convenient to clean and sanitize, making it impervious to mold, bacteria, and dirt, all of which can spread and wreak havoc on your body.
Warehouses deal with a large number of heavy objects, so it makes sense that they’re not the safest places in the world. Nonetheless, with these tips and PTM Solutions’ plastic pallets, you should be able to dramatically reduce the injuries in your warehouse today. Want to know more about plastic pallets? Speak to PTM Solutions today!