If you work in a warehouse or fulfillment center in California, you will be at risk of suffering severe injuries. That is, if your employer does not comply with the California Division of Safety and Health’s safety standards. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 16 warehouse workers lose their lives in work-related accidents nationwide each year. Furthermore, five in every 100 employees in this industry suffer illness or injury every year.
These statistics underscore the need to identify hazards and mitigate them:
- Safety starts with training: Safety training is mandatory, and your employers must include every aspect of the safety systems and procedures in safety training.
- Safety training must be recurring: Safety management is ongoing, and not only for new employees because regularly reminding workers of safety hazards could prevent complacency.
- Housekeeping: Keeping work areas organized and clean is crucial in the pace of activity in warehouse environments. Wet spills or randomly placed merchandise can cause slips, trips and falls.
- Trip and fall hazards: With merchandise moving in and out throughout the day, empty packaging materials, wires, adhesive tape and ropes lying around could cause serious fall injuries.
- Equipment maintenance: Faulty equipment like forklifts pose significant hazards in this industry, and at a hectic pace, regular services and maintenance of motorized equipment is crucial.
Warehouse layout could pose hazards
If you work in a warehouse that is haphazard and without prioritizing employee health, you will have to look out for the following dangers:
- Lighting: Insufficient lighting that not positioned to produce bright light throughout the warehouse.
- Safety signs: You must be able to see and understand safety signs and warnings.
- Forklift hazards: Only certified employees must operate forklifts, and the safest option is to have dedicated and barricaded forklift routes to avoid collisions with pedestrian workers.
- Ergonomics: If your workplace is not ergonomically safe, you will risk musculoskeletal injuries and overexertion from frequent lifting, carrying, placing and pushing heavy objects.
If your employer prioritizes employee safety, you could identify the following unsafe conditions before injuries occur:
- Employees who work without adequate personal protective equipment risk injuries.
- Workers using faulty or malfunctioning equipment.
- Blocked or locked fire and emergency exits.
- Stairs and walkways cluttered with randomly placed objects or debris.
- Uniforms or other objects obscuring safety and warning signs increase injury risks.
- Damaged floors and walkways pose fall hazards.
- Electric cords snaking across walkways pose trip hazards.
- Exposed wires pose electrocution risks.
You might find comfort in knowing that the California workers’ compensation insurance system will have your back in the event of work-related injuries. However, make sure you report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. That would start the wheels rolling with a benefits claim to cover your medical expenses and lost wages if your injury caused temporary disability.