The truth about working in fast-paced operations.
Tackling challenges, teamwork and moving quickly to achieve common goals is a part of building a successful business. However, the demands on today’s distribution centers and logistic warehouses can stress even automated processes and expose workers to risks and hazards.
Busy distribution centers have material handling tasks that requires using hand trucks, dollies and carts, support staff navigating elevated work surfaces, industrious employees climbing on conveyors to clear pinch jams, and skilled forklift operators moving stock to and from mezzanines. Simply walking into these environments are highly regulated process that requires at least a quick safety brief beforehand.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), warehouses account for less than 1 percent of the total 8 million worksites that OSHA oversees nationwide. However, the injury rate in warehouses for the year 2021 is a cause for concern, standing at 5.5 incidences per 100 workers, which is more than double the rate of 2.7 incidences per 100 workers in all other industries.
Effectively rolling out risk and hazard awareness programs and integrating safety systems within a fast-paced operations requires a deep understanding of how to reduce risk and eliminate hazards without compromising the efficiency of operations.
Common Fall Risks and Hazards and Solutions to Address Them
Common hazard areas in warehouses and distribution facilities include docks, material storage, conveyors, charging stations, energized equipment. However, slips, trips, and falls are common place and a major cause of workplace injuries, and this is particularly true in warehousing environments. Employers must be aware of the main hazard areas, legal requirements and best practices for preventing injuries and fatalities caused by falls in the workplace. By doing so, they can ensure the safety and well-being of their employees.
Some of the more overlooked risks and hazards include:
Rooftop Mechanical Equipment
Employers must also be aware of the layout of their rooftops, if anyone needs to step in areas that are between 6 and 15 feet from the edge, fall protection is required by OSHA. Because of their typically large flat footprints, a roof is the ideal location for mechanical utilities and storage tanks for gravity fed systems to be located. It is important to note that not all HVAC, ventilation systems, chemical and utility lines, gutters and drains are situated 6 feet away from the edge of a roof. Moreover, all of these kinds of systems require some level of routine maintenance, inspection or repair to ensure they are functioning optimally and smoothly. Protection of employees, technicians, and contractors conducting rooftop work is a legal and moral responsibility. Options to address these kinds of hazards include:
Rooftop Guardrail – Permanent OSHA compliant, versatile, and long-lasting freestanding roof railing.
Horizontal Lifelines – Versatile OSHA-compliant fall arrest and fall restraint options for a variety of industries and applications.
Skylights & Hatches
Because they provide natural light, energy savings, solar heating and even health benefits skylights are a common warehouses and retail logistics feature. However, when unprotected, OSHA classifies these as “holes in the roof”. Every year, OSHA Accident Reports show tragic accidents of workers falling through unprotected skylights, while performing roof repairs, or even replacing skylights (see one such example 1675158.015). It’s important to focus safety efforts on the main location of access to the rooftop. Because of their frequency of use rooftop hatches are one of the most dangerous parts of the roof and one of the easiest access point to make safe.
Because of their simple designs skylights and hatches among the easiest hazards to mitigate. Options to address these kinds of hazards include:
Skylight Screens – Compliant skylight covers that prevent falls through skylights.
Skylight Guardrail – Free-standing guardrail for skylights, roof lights and dome lights.
Hatch Kits – A railing system and self-closing safety gate that protects this roof access point by surrounding the opening, mitigating the risk.
Due to the constantly changing environment as products are moved around, loaded, and unloaded warehouse workers are more likely to encounter fall accidents at a much higher rate than other workers. Spatial awareness and caution must be used when entering an warehouse during work shifts, especially peak times. Forklifts are the most common injury warehouse workers face. Each year thousands are injured from user error, inadequate training and poor maintenance of forklifts.
Safety Barriers – A range of safety solutions from safety gates designed to protect people, machinery, building walls, shelving, racks, doors, finished products, and anything else that requires protection on site.
Connect with a Professional
Maximizing the utility of fall protection systems requires expert design and installation, along with proper training of maintenance personnel after implementation. More complex or unique situations start with a thorough analysis and definition of the issues. Bringing all fall protection requirements both large and small under a single source like Safeguard Industries means having one manager with total accountability to guide your project every step of the way and ensure a strong and stable safety culture.
Schedule a review of your work at height, facility, or chat with our helpful team about your safety projects. Contact with a fall protection specialist now.