Since the beginning of the pandemic, online shopping has increased and warehouse workers are busier than ever - warehouse and transportation jobs hit a record of 490,000 openings back in July 2021! But safety is still a common concern in this type of environment and it's becoming an even more important topic as this industry continues to soar.
According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average rate of recorded injuries in the warehousing industry was at 4 for every 100 full-time workers in 2020. The most common injuries are:
- Forklift injuries
- Employees being hit by an object or caught between objects
- Slipping, tripping or falling
- Problems when dealing with hazardous materials
- Overexertion injuries caused by lifting, lowering, pulling and carrying heavy objects
- Repetitive stress injuries
While it's the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of employees, it’s also important for warehouse workers to know what to look out for so they can keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), whose role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, recommends practical safety tips. We're sharing some of them here but full detailed information can be found in their pocket guide.
1. PPE is your best friend!
Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE", is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These are protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury. Discuss it with your line manager and make sure to wear it at all times!
2. Follow the procedures and only perform work that you're trained to do.
Companies with a good safety culture will provide workers with easy to understand safety procedures that will keep them injury free. You should be properly trained to perform your activities and never attempt to complete tasks that you haven't been trained or granted a license for. Even if someone in your team assigns you a task you were not trained to perform, discuss it with your line manager immediately. Safety will always come first!
3. Understand the emergency procedures.
Besides providing you with clear safety procedures, your employer should also inform you of all emergency procedures - this is a plan of actions to be conducted in a certain order or manner, in response to an emergency event at the workplace. Emergency events are unforeseen situations that threaten employees, customers, or the public, disrupting or shutting down operations; or even causing physical or environmental damage. Be sure you know the emergency procedures from your first day at work and if you have any questions, clarify them with your line manager.
4. Attention, attention and more attention!
As we mentioned before, it's very common that warehouse workers will be hit by an object or be caught between objects. Slipping and falling also happens often. A warehouse is always a busy environment, so make sure to look both ways when crossing aisles and pay attention to signage, lights and marked floors.
5. Report any issues or potential issues.
Any injury, even if you consider them small, should always be reported immediately to your line manager. The same applies if you witness any unsafe behavior from other team members. Concerns and questions about safety should be discussed as soon as possible with management as well. Don't leave any of these topics for the next day or it can be too late!
If you believe your employer is not following all the safety rules, escalate the issue to your manager. If no actions are taken, you can still file a complaint and request an OSHA inspection of the workplace.
Remember, nothing is more important at work than safety! At Shiftfillers, we take safety very seriously and you can count with our support to clarify any questions or report issues. If you're interested in joining our team, check out our available openings today!