The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) says there are more than 7,000 warehouses in the United States with more than 145,000 people working in them. Ominously, the industry ranks high on the number of on-the-job injuries each year, including those that lead to fatalities. According to OSHA, the fatal injury rate for warehouses is higher than the national average, and that is for all industry categories. Clearly, we can do better on our safety rates. Here are the top OSHA violations in warehouses and how to improve your track record on workplace injuries.
OSHA Top 10 Safety Violations in U.S. Warehouses
OSHA keeps a running tally every year of the safety violations, accidents, and deaths that occur in the workplace of U.S. employers each year. Warehouses are at the top of the list most years, because these sprawling facilities are difficult to manage, from a safety perspective. The top 10 most frequently cited warehouse safety issues that fall under OSHA’s purview include:
- Forklifts kill 100 warehouse workers and injure 95,000 every year. Forklift turnovers are a chief concern.
- Hazard communication manuals for chemicals are required to be updated and properly shared with employees.
- Electrical, wiring methods that are “jury rigged” with unsafe extension cords or faulty schematics, can lead to fires.
- Electrical system design flaws can lead to warehouse fires, placing employees in significant jeopardy.
- Guarding/protecting wall and floor openings and holes so that employees do not trip and fall. Trip and fall incidents are among the highest workplace injuries in warehousing and other industries, as well.
- Exits blocks or not being clearly marked are a fire hazard.
- Mechanical power transmission has to do with conveyor belt systems that move products between points in a warehouse.
- Lockout/tagout procedures are critical for protecting warehouse employees from the release of hazardous energy during maintenance procedures of machinery.
- Portable fire extinguishers must be regularly inspected and tagged, but it’s an area that is easy to miss in a busy warehouse.
What’s surprising about all 10 of the OSHA violations we’ve covered, is that they are all preventable. How can warehouses mitigate their risks by avoiding these OSHA violations?
Preventing Common OSHA Violations in Warehouses
On-the-job accidents and injury cost U.S. employers millions each year. But these events can be prevented through the practice of routine maintenance of the various warehouse systems that employers use every day. For example:
- Train all forklift operators on the proper use of these dangerous tools. Teach each employee using the equipment to inspect it before entering the vehicle. Set rules for driving at speeds of less than five mph.
- Inspect conveyor belts regularly to make sure that pinch points are guarded. Develop ways of locking out the equipment to stop production and train workers in these emergency procedures. Also, increase lighting in these areas.
- Maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every chemical used in your facility. Train your employees on the risks of storing these chemicals and provide spill cleanup kits near where these dangerous substances are stored.
Stellar Staffing partners with warehouse companies to provide them with high caliber, experienced teams to drive production. Talk with us about how we can help you meet your hiring goals.