Products, people and heavy vehicles create a mix that make warehouses an above average perilous place of work. Within those sites, some locations present a higher accident risk than others. Most of those will undoubtedly be on your radar. Others may need some extra attention.
Fact 1: Fatal injury rate in transportation and storage is around twice that of the all industry rate. Around 2.8% of warehousing workers sustain a workplace injury. A rate statistically significantly higher than that for workers across all industries (1,8%).
Fact 2: During 2019, almost one third (31.4 %) of all non-fatal accidents at work in the EU took place on industrial sites. Around one fifth (21.5 %) of fatal accidents resulted from losing control of a machine, tool or transport/handling equipment.
This leads straight into the first item on the following list of locations in warehouses and logistical sites, where most accidents tend to happen.
The forklift represents that risk-prone cocktail of product, people and vehicle like no other. Accidents involving these machines are one of the most common cause of injuries and deaths in warehouse and logistical facilities.
“Wherever forklifts operate, the risk for workers goes up”
Incidents and accidents result from forklifts overturning, crushing workers or dropping items while loading or transporting. Warehouse workers can be hit or run over by forklifts, get caught or crushed between a forklift and a fixed structure or in some cases fall off a pallet elevated by a forklift.
So strictly speaking not a location but rather the given that “wherever forklifts operate, the risk for workers goes up”.
As an actual location where warehouse or storage facility employees suffer the highest risk of getting injured, the loading dock is an infamously well-known hazard zone. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that a quarter of all accidents that happen in warehouses happen around the loading docks.
Accidents encompass workers being crushed between forklifts and trailers while loading or unloading goods. The average height of a loading dock means a fall very often results in injury or serious injury. Workers get hit by trucks that are unaware of their presence and the often unavoidable task of loading and unloading heavy items by itself provides ample cause for injury.
Designed to reduce heavy or dangerous labor and the accompanying injuries, conveyors bring their own set of mechanical hazards.
The vast majority of accidents and injuries occur during maintenance, cleaning or servicing the conveyor. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over 40 workplace fatalities a year are the result of conveyor accidents, along with 9,000 injuries.
Most of the storage related accidents are the result of bad or unsafe stacking. Heavy items that tumble or fall from height can cause serious injury. This can happen due to faulty packaging, rack push-through or not complying with regulations regarding bracing, interlocking, blocking, etc.
Racks and shelves need to be regularly checked for wear and tear, and never ever used beyond their weight restrictions.
Also not strictly a location but a collection of dynamic, ever shifting higher-risk spots are to be found wherever things have changed on the work floor.
This can cover a multitude of areas. It can be something as simple as the widening of aisles, the introduction of new equipment, a new batch of workers, a change in the production process, renovations or repairs, … whenever employees need to change their fixed routine or adapt to new circumstances, the potential for mistakes rises. And with it the risk of accidents.