29 Dec, 2023

Preventing Warehouse Injuries in Bloomington, IL

Author Todd A. Strong
Parts warehouse aisle of of manufacturing company. Preventing warehouse injuries
Parts warehouse aisle of of manufacturing company. Preventing warehouse injuries

Common Warehouse Injuries

Injuries and accidents are common in most workplaces, but they occur more frequently in warehouses. Some typical injuries include:

Manual Handling Injuries

Manual handling involves transporting or supporting a load using bodily force like lifting or pushing. It's responsible for over 30% of workplace injuries, including work-related musculoskeletal disorders, back injuries, strains and sprains, hand injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, hernias, and foot injuries. Most injuries occur due to poor lifting techniques, heavy loads, and poor posture.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are common occurrences in a warehouse. You can slip when you lose your footing, trip when you catch your foot on or in something, and fall when you come down suddenly. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the warehouse is free from trip and slip hazards. Here are some common trip and slip hazards that you should be aware of:

Warehouse Trip Hazards

Pallets are one of the most common items in a warehouse. Both empty and occupied pallets can be serious trip hazards for anyone walking through a warehouse, including forklift drivers dismounted from the control cabin. There should be careful cleanup after any pallet breaks, and only pallets that are structurally sound should be used.

The typical warehouse contains thousands of pallets of products. If a pallet spills or falls, it can create hundreds of trip hazards right away. OSHA recommends safer product placement to avoid this.

Inadequate lighting can cause trip hazards. Ensure your warehouse has adequate lighting for everyone, including forklift drivers.

Warehouse Slip Hazards

Slick surfaces and forklifts are not a good combination. Even minor spills can become major problems in any warehouse. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that any spill or area with water is quickly cleaned up.

During forklift operation, they can leak oil, which can create slip hazards. Therefore, it is important to report any oil slicks to your safety supervisor immediately.

In environments like frozen food distribution centers, spilled products can pose serious slip hazards. For instance, frozen beans on a warehouse floor can act like miniature ball bearings. If any product is spilled in your warehouse, clean it up as soon as possible.

Forklift Injuries

Accidents are usually caused by the forklift operator or pedestrians not paying attention. Forklift accidents can also be caused by improper load handling, lack of hazard and warning signs, maintenance issues, operator fatigue or injury, training and certification lapses, exceeding weight capacity, excessive speed, driving with an elevated load, and unsafe trailer load conditions. These issues can result in forklifts tipping over, crashing, malfunctioning, and rolling over. This poses a significant safety hazard for the forklift operator and any other workers who might get caught in the accident.

If you get injured while working in a warehouse, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. A workers' comp attorney can help you understand how much workers' comp pays for lost wages in Bloomington and assist you in filing a claim.

Effective Strategies for Preventing Warehouse Injuries

To create a safe warehouse, you need to implement effective strategies to prevent injuries. These include:

Workplace Safety Culture

Warehouse managers who prioritize safety understand the risks and strive to create a safety culture. This involves instilling in employees the importance of safety and encouraging them to identify hazards and report them to management. There should also be procedures for reporting a workplace injury. By expanding this safety culture, the rate of injuries and fatalities can be reduced.

Building a safety culture requires a company-wide commitment to safety. Workers need to be empowered to speak up about unsafe situations, and management needs to take prompt action to address them. For instance, forklift operators displaying unsafe driving habits should receive re-training, while safety fencing should be installed around conveyor belts to keep workers at a safe distance.

Training programs are essential to building a safety culture. Workers should be trained on how to work safely with the equipment and materials they use, and how to identify and report any unsafe conditions.

Warehouse managers should ensure that their employees are aware of OSHA standards and regulations and that their activity is compliant. Posting and distributing information that promotes occupational safety and health should be a part of any safety program.

Ultimately, workers are responsible for ensuring their own safety. They should be encouraged to pay attention to their surroundings and wear appropriate protective clothing.

Ergonomic Principles

Warehouse employees are often required to do a lot of heavy lifting, which can be physically demanding and may result in injuries if not done properly. Therefore, training in the correct lifting procedures to avoid hurting themselves or others is essential. Your warehouse safety program should include ergonomics in the workplace, focusing on proper lifting techniques and the operation of lifting tables. It's also important to remind employees to maintain proper posture in general. Additionally, if they have to perform manual lifting, it's essential to train them in the proper techniques that will help protect their back and knees from injury.

Housekeeping and Maintenance

Effective housekeeping is essential in controlling and eliminating workplace hazards. Poor housekeeping practices contribute to accidents and can lead to more severe hazards. It involves maintaining tidy work areas, keeping halls and floors free of slip and trip hazards, and removing waste materials and fire hazards. Maintenance is an essential aspect of good housekeeping, and it involves keeping buildings, equipment, and machinery in safe working order. A good maintenance program ensures the inspection, maintenance, upkeep, and repair of tools, equipment, machines, and processes.

Implementing Safety Protocols and Programs in Bloomington, IL Warehouses

Hiring and Training Practices

Safety programs should be implemented from the moment an employee is hired. During the hiring process, it is important to emphasize the importance of adherence to safety protocols. Candidates' understanding of safety measures should be assessed, and their experience with safety procedures, commitment to following guidelines, and ability to react effectively in potentially hazardous situations, should be evaluated.

Once you have hired reliable staff, ensure they receive thorough training and onboarding. This will equip them with the necessary skills and reinforce your company's values, expectations, and safety standards. Comprehensive training sets the foundation for long-term reliability.

A training program specific to employees' jobs should be an essential part of any safety-first commitment. The program should teach employees about safety precautions and protocols. Regular safety updates, refresher courses, and recurring training should be included to ensure that unsafe activity is prevented.

Legislative and Regulatory Requirements

Private employers in Illinois are covered by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which aims to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, is granted authority by the OSH Act to establish rules, standards, and regulations.

While there are no specific OSHA regulations for warehousing, warehouse operations fall under the general industry requirements that include several OSHA standards:

  • Hazard Communication: Warehouse operators must develop and implement a written Hazard Communication program. Warehouse workers may be exposed to hazardous chemicals and should be aware of them and know how to protect themselves.
  • Emergency Action Plan (EAP): If the warehouse does not have an in-house fire brigade, warehouse owners should have a detailed plan outlining the actions their employees should take in the event of a fire or other emergency situations.
  • Fire safety: If a warehouse management has a workforce of more than 10 employees, they must maintain a written fire prevention plan within the warehouse premises. This plan should be easily accessible to the warehouse personnel for their review.
  • Exit Routes: There should be at least two well-designed and well-constructed emergency exit routes, located as far away as practical from each other in case one is blocked by fire or smoke. These exit routes should be regularly inspected for maintenance, safeguards, and operational features.
  • Walking / Working Surfaces: To ensure the safety of warehouse and storage facility workers who work at heights, particularly on elevated platforms, it is important to provide them with fall protection systems. Falls are one of the primary causes of severe work-related injuries and fatalities.
  • Medical and First Aid: OSHA mandates that warehouse operators must provide medical and first-aid personnel and supplies that are commensurate with warehouse hazards, such as faulty pallet racks and racking falls due to the unsafe use of forklifts.

If you were injured while working in a warehouse, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injuries by guiding you through filing a successful workers' compensation claim in Bloomington. 

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.