Creating a safer workplace for North Carolina warehouse workers

Warehouse workers face a range of inherent hazards in the workplace, but the implementation of safety procedures may help to reduce some dangers.

Employees in North Carolina's warehousing and storage industry are generally responsible for operating facilities that house refrigerated products, general merchandise and other warehouse goods. Even in the safest of facilities, working in this field can pose serious risks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.2 reported cases of work-related injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time warehousing and storage employees in 2013. By taking certain precautions, however, some risks may be avoided.

Common warehouse hazards

Due to the nature of the job, employees in warehouses and storage facilities face a number of hazards in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, some of the most common risks include the following:

  • Failing to utilize appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Lacking adequate fire safety provisions
  • Operating forklifts improperly or unsafely
  • Neglecting to follow the proper tagout or lockout procedures
  • Stacking and storing products improperly or unsafely

Additionally, warehousing employees can also be at risk for suffering repetitive motion injuries. As a result of these hazards, workers may sustain serious injuries, which could be covered by their employers' workers' compensation policies.

Conduct safety training

Perhaps the most useful tool for improving warehouse safety for workers is to conduct regular training. By educating employees on the facility's safe practices, it familiarizes them with ways they can reduce their risks in the workplace. Furthermore, it can help them to understand the potential consequences of not complying with the warehouse's safety standards. Generally, this training should ensure workers know where to locate fire and first aid provisions, and how to handle emergency situations.

In addition to providing safety training, workers should also receive training and certification on the use of equipment. This includes hydraulic dollies and forklifts. Doing so can help guarantee the equipment is operated safely and properly at all times.

Perform regular safety checks

It can be important to conduct regular safety checks in warehouses. This includes checking for and removing potential safety threats, such as spilled liquids, stray cords, and improperly stored equipment and tools. Additionally, these checks may also help identify any equipment or areas that require repair or service.

Require the use of proper safety equipment

It is vital that warehouse employees use hard hats and eye protection when appropriate. Wearing the proper shoes and clothing can also be essential for workers' safety. This can help prevent clothes from becoming entangled or caught in equipment, which could easily result in a serious on-the-job injury.

Identify dangerous zones

There are often numerous hazardous zones throughout warehouses. By clearly marking off and labeling these zones, it may make workers more aware of the dangerous areas. This will allow them to use extra care in those spaces. Painted stripes or tape on floors, as well as signs are commonly used to identify hazardous areas and safe walkways.

Working with a legal professional

The injuries suffered by North Carolina workers in warehousing accidents are often compensable through workers' compensation. For some, however, the process of obtaining those benefits may be difficult. Warehouse workers who have been injured on-the-job may find it helpful to seek legal counsel and representation. An attorney may help them to understand their rights, as well as the benefits they may be entitled to.

Keywords: workplace, accident, workers' compensation