How to protect yourself and receive compensation if you’re injured on the job
Working in a warehouse comes with a unique set of risks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the warehouse industry has the highest number of occupational injuries in the country. There are many potential risks, from falling objects to moving equipment, that can result in severe and catastrophic injuries. That’s why warehouse workers should observe caution at all times to avoid on-the-job injuries.
It might appear that injuries occur because of a lack of regulations in the warehouse industry. But the truth is that all warehouses operating in the U.S. do so under stringent rules. Governing bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) review rules and regulations annually and make necessary adjustments.
Tips for staying safe while working in a warehouse
As a warehouse worker, it’s your responsibility to adhere to the existing OSHA regulations to avoid on-the-job accidents. Below are some of our top tips to stay safe while working in a warehouse.
Wear personal protective gear
Back braces, eye protection and hard hats are vital protective gear that should be worn at all times while on duty or within the warehouse. There’s a reason why the company provides safety equipment to its workers. No matter how safe the working area appears to be, ensure that you wear the safety equipment. This will go a long way in protecting you from unforeseen accidents while working or moving around.
Adhere to proper lifting techniques
The most common cause of warehouse injuries is improperly lifting, holding or carrying heavy objects. These types of activities put stress on the neck and back and can result in acute and chronic injuries and pain. Consistently wearing a weight belt can reduce stress on your back and protect you from injury.
Report injuries as soon as possible
It’s easy to dismiss or ignore a minor injury while working in a warehouse. But what if that injury turns out to be serious later on? It’s recommended that you report injuries immediately after they occur, regardless of how small or minor they might seem. This will give the company a chance to assess the extent of the injury and take appropriate action. It will also make it easier to validate your injury and receive compensation in a workers’ comp case.
Keep in mind that you have a maximum of 30 days to report your injury, and you generally have 1 year to file a workers’ comp claim. Because the rules regarding statutes of limitations in these cases are rather complicated, it’s always best to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you don’t miss any essential deadlines that could negatively impact your ability to receive compensation.
Don’t operate equipment without proper training
Most modern warehouses use state-of-the-art machinery to run their operations. Because this equipment is often dangerous and complicated to use, workers should receive adequate training before attempting to operate any equipment. Even machinery that appears straightforward and simple to use can cause injuries without proper training.
Beware of your surroundings
A warehouse is generally a risky place to work. As such, you should always pay attention to your environment. As you walk along aisles and hallways, treat them as busy streets where a vehicle can pass through at any time. Immediately pick up any trash or debris that could cause injury to passersby. You should also be cautious when sitting on or leaning against stacked objects because your weight may shift the material and cause serious injuries.
Avoid loose-fitting or baggy clothes
Loose-fitting shirts or pants, long sleeves and other baggy attire can easily get caught in machinery and cause serious injury. Special attire is required when working in a warehouse environment, and workers should abide by these recommendations. Failure to follow instructions regarding the type of clothing you wear at work can have enormous safety repercussions.
Adhere to weight limit restrictions
It can be tempting to stack several heavy objects on a piece of lifting equipment to finish your work faster. But overloading a machine can cause it to fail. When a machine fails, you and anyone around you are at risk of getting injured.
Report unsafe behavior
Your safety, and that of other warehouse workers, is paramount. There should be no room for unsafe behavior at work. If you witness any person failing to adhere to the established safety protocols, you should report the incident immediately to your supervisor or manager. Some breaches may seem harmless but can cost you a lot if something goes wrong. You have a responsibility to keep yourself and your colleagues safe while at work.
Understand all emergency procedures
All warehouse employees should be properly trained on the importance of safety protocols, like hazard communication, fire safety and evacuation procedures. For example, you should know where emergency exits and first aid equipment are located.
In general, the responsibility of keeping a warehouse safe doesn’t fall on any single entity. Workers and employers both have a duty to ensure that everyone conducts themselves in a manner that promotes safety while working in a warehouse.