Today’s guest post is brought to you by Vincent West of WorkBootCritic.com. Thanks for your informative post, Vince!
Workplace safety used to be a very low-priority concern for most companies before former US President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Health and Safety Act on December 29, 1970. Since then, injury and fatality rates have decreased. In fact, ever since the nineties jobs have been rapidly becoming safer than ever.
But make no mistake, we still have a long way to go.
What to consider: safe warehouse best practices
According to statistics conducted and published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA for short, around 100 warehouse workers die every year, and more than 95,000 are injured. When considering that job-related casualties have been reduced by as much as 62% since the 70s, these numbers still look grim.
Unfortunately, being a warehouse worker is still one of the most dangerous professions out there, with an injury rate higher than the national average for all other fields. For this reason, we all need to do our due diligence and learn from past mistakes to create a better, brighter future for factory workers.
Here are three powerful lessons about warehouse safety that everyone should follow:
1. Proper safety equipment is essential
Though it’s true that ensuring workplace security legally falls in the hands of the employer, at the end of the day ensuring your own health and safety should be a priority to you. This is why you need to wear proper safety equipment at all times. Special clothing will protect your body from any substances or debris that you might come in contact with, and so will goggles.
In construction zones, make sure that falling objects don’t injure you by wearing a helmet at all times. Furthermore, if you operate heavy machinery on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to put your gloves on before going behind the wheel or whatever else you might be using to direct it.
On top of that, you will most likely spend long hours being constantly on the move, so make sure to wear your comfortable work boots for standing all day. This can help protect you from unpleasant health issues such as back pain or ankle swelling in the long run, and they will also safeguard your feet against any related hazards.
2. Be aware of all potential hazards
No matter what environment you work in, it’s your duty as an employee to know all the potential dangers you might face. According to Canada’s Ministry of Labor, there are three main hazards factory workers deal with a warehouse, namely:
- Loading and unloading areas
- Storage and racking systems
- Tripping or falling over
In the case of loading docks, heavy machinery such as forklifts or vehicles such as trucks and trailers represent major risks. You can easily get pinned between them if you’re not careful. Improperly secured items falling over also represent a peril when loading or unloading a shipping container.
As for the storage areas, you most likely know by now that these are made from hefty materials, such as steel pellets. They usually sustain heavy loads, which means that they can collapse either partially or completely. Furthermore, due to floor vibrations caused by machinery usage, stored items can get displaced and fall over.
Last, but certainly not least, a warehouse receives all sorts of materials and substances for manufacturing. This means that the chances of tripping over debris are high, and so is slipping on wet surfaces. Thus, you need to be cautious and always look out for such obstacles.
3. Ensure that your rights are respected
As a worker, your main responsibility is doing your job in compliance with OSHA laws and regulations. But you also need to know what your warehouse safety rights are and report any violations to your supervisor. Unfortunately, some companies still try to fool their staff because they count on them not knowing what the proper standards are, so watch out for that.
Your employer is obligated by law to inform you of all the possible hazards that you might face while on the job site. Thus, if you notice that your rights weren’t respected, you need to inform a higher authority immediately. In addition, know that you are entitled to refuse to perform any tasks in unsafe conditions.
When working in the warehouse industry, your employer can only do so much to ensure that your health and safety is preserved. The rest is up to you, so don’t forget to put on your helmet, know what the dangers are and know your rights. If anything triggers your suspicions, inform a superior immediately.