Avoid the five most common warehouse accidents with these tips
There are many potential hazards in warehouses which employees often lose sight of when working. Complacency, lack of awareness or failure to comply with regulations can lead to accidents in warehouses. These also include accidents involving machines and forklift trucks. Smooth processes and consistent precautions can reduce the risk of accidents. That’s why we have compiled the five most common causes of accidents and how to avoid them:
1- Collisions between people and machines
Ideally, transport routes and pedestrian areas should be kept separate from one another. In some cases, these areas are not properly separated or people do not stay within their designated area. Both parties should act carefully and attentively to prevent collisions between people and machines. People on foot should always ensure that they keep their distance from any moving vehicles. Otherwise, there is a risk of getting caught in the driver’s blind spot or behind a reversing vehicle. The driver of the vehicle can always take precautions by driving carefully through the warehouse at low speeds. This increases the likelihood of a forklift truck stopping in good time if pedestrians or other vehicles cross their path. Technologies such as the Linde BlueSpot ground warning system increase safety along driving paths by projecting a blue warning spot on the ground using LED lights to notify pedestrians and other vehicles of their presence.
2-Unfamiliarity or lack of employee knowledge
One of the tasks of a warehouse employee is to ensure their own personal safety and that of other people and processes while working. In order to reduce or avoid hazards altogether, the employee is responsible for operating vehicles safely, identifying and reporting faulty work equipment in good time and following the guidelines set for them. However, stress, time shortages and carelessness mean that this is often not the case. Regular training based on the latest safety regulations is therefore essential for avoiding accidents. This gives inexperienced employees the theoretical knowledge they require in order to minimise the risk of accidents. For experienced employees, training sessions help to refresh their knowledge and prevent careless behaviour. It is helpful to establish a culture of safety in the workplace whereby employees are aware of the potential risks and understand that negligent behaviour has serious consequences.
3- Tripping, slipping and falling accidents
According to the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), every day over 400 workplace accidents are caused by slipping, tripping and falling (STF accidents). The causes of these accidents are varied, however most occur while walking or running. The culprits include packaging or other materials left on the floor, slippery floor coverings or poor lighting.
Accident-prevention measures may include:
- Non-slip and flat surfaces
- Roofing, wind protection and winter road maintenance (depending on the weather conditions) for outdoor transport routes.
- Flat and clearly visible steps
- Adequate lighting
- Work clothing such as non-slip shoes
In addition to a lack of safety in the workplace, STF accidents are also caused by human error. Regular safety training increases employee awareness of the potential everyday risks. Nevertheless, each employee must personally assess their job performance, particularly in stressful situations.
4- Falling loads
The correct storage of goods plays a key role in warehouse safety. Even small vibrations can cause poorly stored goods to fall. Damage to shelving, caused by a collision with a conveyor for example, can impact the stability and safety of the shelving. The following measures can be taken to improve shelving safety:
- Impact protection on the shelf posts, either on the ground or attached to the post itself, helps prevent damage caused by collisions.
- Push-through safety mechanisms, higher end post frames and rear wall grilles prevent goods from falling off, tipping over or being pushed over the edge.
- Lightweight low supports increase the load-bearing capacity of shelves and strong angular supports ensure that pallets can be safely stored on the shelf without slipping.
5- Loading and unloading goods
Loading and unloading goods is part and parcel of daily warehouse tasks. This results in a number of hazards for warehouse employees. Employees often find themselves being driven into, wedged between vehicles or hit by falling objects.
The first step towards minimising these accidents is proper vehicle handling and storage. This includes properly estimating the load capacity and correctly distributing and securing the load. Last but not least, the load should be lifted from the transport position shortly before setting down with the forklift in a stationary and parked position.
Before employees can work on the site, they must be given extensive training on the instructions and procedures to follow for securing vehicles and lifting devices. Regular refresher courses and further training help employees stay up-to-date with processes.