A significant portion of the Western Pennsylvania workforce is part of the fulfillment center industry. If you are one of the many workers who will soon face the frantic peak season, you might recognize the need for learning about potential injury hazards. Only then can you work on your own precautionary measures to stay safe.
Fulfillment centers are always hives of activity, but when inexperienced seasonal workers come in, additional measures are necessary to prevent injuries. In anticipation of the rush, safety authorities highlighted some of the most common risks.
Falls caused by slips or trips
You will likely come across discarded shrink wrap, pieces of corrugated packaging and even broken pallets as you walk along the aisles of a fulfillment center. Along with spills of fluids, debris and random objects come slip-and-trip hazards that could lead to severe injuries. Take the following precautions to avoid such incidents:
- Practice proper housekeeping, clean up wet spots and remove clutter and debris immediately.
- Avoid stacking merchandise in aisles or other walkways.
- Ask your employer to post warning signs or apply caution tape to emphasize varying floor levels or steps.
- Ask for better illumination in dark areas.
Thousands of workers suffer forklift-related injuries each year. The following OSHA suggestions might prevent you from becoming a part of those statistics:
- Allow only properly trained and certified operators over the age of 18 years to use forklifts.
- Thoroughly inspect forklifts at the start of each shift and remove unsafe equipment from service for repairs.
- Always follow safety procedures to lift, lower and stack forklift loads.
- Maintain safe driving standards and keep the speed below 5 mph. Always alert pedestrian workers of your presence.
Improperly stacked pallets and shelves can have devastating consequences for employees and merchandise if they should collapse. The following steps could mitigate these hazards:
- Keep in mind that one negligently stacked pallet rack can cause a domino effect if it should collapse and fall against the next stack.
- Keep a lookout for stacks that contain overhanging pallets.
- Ensure that aisles between rows of racks offer ample space for workers and forklifts to move about safely.
- Allocate the heaviest products to the lower slots when stacking shelves.
- Avoid stacking goods too high and take extra care with oddly shaped products such as cylindrical objects.
Warehouse activities typically involve lifting, bending, pulling, pushing and carrying that could cause repetitive strain injuries. The following ergonomic changes to work areas can prevent such injuries:
- Administrative work surfaces with adjustable heights can accommodate workers with different heights.
- Rubber floor pads can reduce fatigue in the feet and legs of workers.
- Plan packaging in a way that will eliminate the need for stretching.
- Use back braces if heavy lifting is unavoidable.
- Learn safe lifting techniques such as using leg muscles rather than back muscles to support the lift.
Being alert and anticipating what could go wrong might serve you well over the busy season. However, workplace accidents can happen at any time, and if you are the unfortunate victim, you might spend your holidays in the hospital. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania workers' compensation insurance program will cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. You will be able to secure the services of a law firm with board-certified civil trial specialists to handle your case and provide the necessary support and guidance.