7 Most Common Warehouse Injuries
Date Posted:15 March 2022
Since the beginning of the pandemic when online shopping increased, warehouses became busier and more crowded than ever. And with more and more people working long hours, there is an increase in common injuries in warehouse jobs.
A warehouse can be a very dangerous environment and even when you're being careful, accidents can happen.
The seven most common warehouse injuries include:
- Forklift injuries
- Slips, trips and falls
- Falling objects/collapsing racks
- Getting caught between accidents
- Injuries caused by hazardous materials
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Injuries caused by overexertion
If you have good workplace equipment, you can prevent most of the listed injuries. However, it's still important to be informed on what can happen, so keep reading.
Forklift injuries are one of the most common warehouse injuries due to multiple reasons. Some of them include poor visibility, carelessness, and a disregard for traffic management plans and procedures.
When you consider that an average forklift weighs 4 tons, you can easily see why these injuries can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening. Some of the most common accidents involving forklifts include dropping loads on people, running over pedestrians, and tripping over.
These incidents can sometimes even be fatal, but companies can still reduce the risk of death and injury. It's very important to provide forklift operating training for everyone who has to deal with this machine as well as training on industry-specific hazards.
Sometimes, accidents are unavoidable, but if you take the proper measures to create a safe work environment that will minimize the risk for employees, you can significantly reduce accidents. Talking about forklift safety procedures should be done with all employees, not just forklift operators.
And finally, accidents can happen if the forklift you're using isn't up to regulatory standards. This is why it's very important to provide these workers with good lifting equipment that will be dependable.
Warehouses are typically very big and very rarely are they cleaned frequently. Liquids and other slippery substances can easily spill without anyone noticing, which brings us to our next group of most common warehouse injuries - slips, trips, and falls.
These spills act like invisible traps that workers who are in a rush or just careless won't notice until it's too late and they find themselves lying on the floor. This may not sound too dangerous, but if you take into account that warehouses are full of high areas, the danger becomes more obvious.
Slips and falls can result in sprained ankles, fractured or broken bones, damaged personal items, and much more, all of which usually leads to a lawsuit.
Slippery materials aren't the only cause of these injuries. Slips and falls can also occur due to:
- Slippery surfaces
- Inappropriate footwear
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Exposed wires
- Loose rugs
You can minimize the number of slips, trips, and falls that happen in your warehouse if you get rid of all tripping hazards, ensure the warehouse gets cleaned regularly, and have adequate lighting everywhere. And of course, remind your employees to always watch their steps.
When people mention common injuries in warehouse jobs, for most the first association is getting hurt by falling objects. This isn't surprising at all since warehouses are filled with shelves that store various objects. If those shelves aren't constructed properly, they're just accidents waiting to happen.
Nonetheless, poorly constructed shelves aren't the only cause of falling objects. Sometimes, accidents can occur due to carelessness from a worker who didn't put away items in a safe manner. In these cases, just one small item that was misplaced can cause serious damage.
Collapsing pallet racks are another common accident that can occur when the materials aren't properly put away. This is especially dangerous when a collapse happens from a higher tier. In this case, no matter the size of a pallet it can cause a serious, even fatal, injury.
To avoid a pallet rack collapse, the best thing to do is to properly stack them. This means putting the pallets with the biggest and heaviest items on the bottom and the lightest and smallest items on the top. And make sure to leave enough spaces between the pallets so lift trucks can access them.
You might be surprised by this, but another one of the most common warehouse injuries is getting caught between pieces of equipment. For example, someone can seriously hurt themselves if they get caught between a forklift and a storage unit.
Getting caught between accidents usually happen when a worker doesn't use equipment to lift materials when they should and they get their fingers or hands crushed by heavy objects. Another example would be when a piece of machinery accidentally falls on an employee and injures them.
Caught between accidents can cause some serious injuries, not limited to but including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Muscle sprains, strains, and tears
- Spinal cord injuries
- Tissue damage
- Warehouse back injuries
Each worker could be responsible for getting caught between accidents, so make sure to educate everyone on proper safety procedures.
We've already talked about a spill can lead to injuries in warehouse settings, but depending on what you spill, the consequence can be much more serious than just tripping.
Warehouses that deal with the distribution or production of hazardous or volatile materials need to be more careful not to let spills happen than any other warehouse. In such a warehouse, even one small spill can endanger everyone who is inside.
Hazardous materials are defined as any material that can cause physical harm. A lot of things can classify as hazardous materials, for example, flammable liquids and radioactive materials. But regardless of what hazardous material there are in your warehouse, your workers can be in serious danger if they come into contact with it. For instance, this can lead to painful warehouse eye injuries.
Luckily, you can prepare your workers to deal with hazardous spills and leaks by providing them with the necessary training on how to clean up the spills and contain the material.
And probably the most important thing you need to do is to ensure your workers have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). If your warehouse workers have high-quality waste handling equipment, the number of accidents caused by hazardous materials will be much lower.
Highly repetitive tasks and activities can cause serious injuries as well. This is most common in selector type positions and the jobs where employees aren't rotated through lines despite performing repetitive tasks.
Some common repetitive stress injuries that occur include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Thumb injuries
- Neck and shoulder pains
- Muscle strain
- Joint injuries
Most warehouses have some positions that require repetitive tasks, but that doesn't mean just one employee should be responsible for one task. You can avoid repetitive stress injuries by constantly rotating employees and don't forget to let them rest from time to time.
Finally, the last type of injuries in warehouse jobs we want to talk about are injuries caused by overexertion. These injuries occur when a worker puts too much stress on their body by performing tasks such as carrying, lifting and lowering, or pulling heavy objects.
Warehouse workers are no strangers to moving and lifting heavy objects and working in very uncomfortable positions that lead to overexertion injuries. And if these injuries do occur, the worker is left with chronic pain and limited movement.
The most common overexertion injuries warehouse workers deal with are back injuries. However, many more injuries can occur.
Some other injuries caused by overexertion are:
- Nerve injuries
- Sprains and tears of muscle tissue
- Neck injuries
- Connective tissue injuries
- Joint injuries in both the arms and legs
- Muscle strains
- Tendon injuries
It's also important to note that overexertion can also lead to a heart attack so even if some of these injuries seem like minor issues, they can also be fatal.
The best way to avoid overexertion is to provide your employees with adequate training on how to properly carry and lift heavy objects. And make sure to let all of your employees know that unless they have the physical capacities to deal with lifting heavy objects, they should avoid doing it.
Warehouse owners often ignore the ergonomic issues their workers face because they fear productivity will suffer. But it's best to not make your employees take on more than they can handle.
A workplace that isn't safe for everyone who enters can be extremely dangerous, and this is especially true for places that have high safety risks, such as warehouses. It is the job of warehouse owners to stay vigilant and take the proper steps to ensure all of these common injuries are avoided.
The best way to prevent injuries is to be aware of all the risks that can occur when working in a warehouse and to make sure all of your employees are following the proper procedures. And of course, never forget the importance of good storage equipment.