10 Common Warehouse Hazards + How to Prevent Them

A lot is happening in a warehouse, and any hazard could compromise occupational safety. Warehouse accidents can lead to serious injury, increase downtime, and in cases of negligence, even lawsuits against you. While productivity and efficiency are vital to any successful business, they should never come at the expense of safety.

Let’s look at 10 of the most common warehouse hazards you’re likely to come across and discuss the best safety tips to help avoid these issues.

Hazard #1 – Poor layout

It’s difficult to overstate how big a role the layout of your warehouse floor plays in overall productivity, efficiency, and safety. A well-designed warehouse takes into account not only your storage needs but also organises your shelving and stock in a way that makes everyday tasks more efficient and safe.

Meanwhile, a poor layout leads to traffic jams, workers having difficulty finding stock, and shelving arrangements that allow for the easy removal of products.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

Consider the everyday operations of your warehouse and you will notice common routes taken by your employees. Things you want to avoid are traffic jams, time wasted searching for items, and unnecessarily long journeys. Some steps you can take to improve your layout are to organise your products by type, popularity, and size.

Having enough quality space and storage will make a world of difference to your warehouse’s layout. Installing a mezzanine floor provides an entirely new level to use for an office, extra storage space, or whatever your needs are.

Hazard #2 – Slips trips and falls

Warehouses can be hectic places, with workers constantly on the move. Unfortunately, this busy environment means that a step in the wrong direction, a poorly placed box, or a slippery surface can lead to an accident.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

The best solution to these issues is prevention.

Warehouse owners need to talk to their staff about how avoiding these hazards is a team effort. Instil proper procedures for dealing with spills or dropped produce and emphasise the importance of not leaving any stock where someone could trip over it.

Hazard #3 – Falling objects

Falling objects in warehouses can be the result of a few different scenarios. When shelves are poorly stocked or overstocked, it’s only a matter of time before unstable, loose materials fall. Employees misjudging when removing an item, whether it is in their grip or just the weight of the product, is the other common reason for falling objects. Even with protective equipment, a falling object can cause serious injury, or even death, if it hits a passerby.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

Consider how you stack your shelves and what will work best for your warehousing operations. Keeping similar-sized items stacked together will help avoid issues like items tipping over.

Having adequate shelving and well-designed storage areas will provide the necessary space and structural support to keep stock safely in place.

Hazard #4 – Loading dock accidents

Loading dock areas are some of the busiest places in the warehouse, with a variety of potential issues, including pallets, forklifts, heavy machinery and other hazards. Moving vehicles and other workers in close vicinity is a recipe for an accident if preventive action is taken.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

Try to identify all potential interaction points in the loading dock and try to find ways to avoid or minimise the chances of accidents. Encourage cooperation, coordination, and communication among your co-workers.

Warehouse personnel need to be aware of how dangerous forklift accidents can be. Ideally, forklift operators and floor staff will be always aware of one another. Safety procedures, such as warning signs and blocking off the area when a forklift is operating, can help with this.

Hazard #5 – Poor ergonomics and manual lifting technique

Working in a warehouse requires a lot of physical activity, some of it strenuous and repetitive. Lifting a heavy item poorly or trying to pick up something too heavy can lead to serious injury in the back, knees, muscles, and neck. Overexerting makes up a whopping 31% of all warehouse injuries, and yet, it’s one of the easier issues to minimise.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

In essence, your employees need to value working smarter rather than harder. Good technique and knowing one’s limitations trump brute force in most cases and can prevent workplace injuries. Let your employees know you’d rather they made two safe trips than a single dangerous one.

It’s essential to train your employees in the importance of proper lifting techniques, such as bending and lifting with the knees. Just as essential is for your warehousing workers to be properly trained in their limits. Heavy loads should be lifted with a trolley or forklift or by numerous people.

Hazard #6 – Lack of safety measures for warehouse workers

While there are occasions where people know better and instead act irresponsibly, often people are simply unaware of how unsafe they’re being. Someone who threw their back out may not have received training on how to carry objects. Without education on how to deal with specific hazards or the risks certain tasks have, workers won’t be prepared to perform the job safely.

How to prevent this issue

Regular training to cover topics like the safe handling of hazardous chemicals, wearing safety footwear and other appropriate personal protective equipment, and what to do in case of an accident. Effective training will instil good habits in your workers and inform them of potential risks in the workplace.

Hazard #7 – Poor storage facilities

No warehouse owner wants to hear that his business is running short on storage space. Inadequate storage space leads to a variety of issues, including over-stacked shelves, stock being left in aisles, and general disorganisation. All of this can dramatically cut down on productivity while increasing the risk of accidents.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

Making the most of your space is key to successful warehouse operations. Quality shelves and pallet stacking are the backbones of any warehouse, and the installation of a mezzanine can unlock potential you didn’t realise your workspace had.

Hazard #8 – Fire hazards

Few hazards are more potentially dangerous than a fire, which can destroy stock and your business and potentially cost lives. Many warehouses are filled with flammable materials, including paper, cardboard boxes, chemicals, and more. Something as simple as faulty wiring, unsafe heating equipment, or a poorly disposed cigarette is all it takes to engulf your warehouse.

How to prevent this warehouse hazard

Fire safety procedures can help prevent fires and save lives if a fire should occur.

Regular fire inspections and having your electrical gear tested and tagged are great starting points. It is also important to have safety equipment, including portable fire extinguishers, and procedures for what to do in case of warehouse fires, such as the exit routes, where the fire doors, are and where to gather once employees have left the building.

Hazard #9 – Harmful substances, materials, and chemicals

Substances such as paints, acids, chemicals, disinfectants, glue, and other similar substances need to be treated as potential hazards by you and your employees. Misuse or spillage can cause burns and serious injury.

How to avoid this hazard

Hazardous substances should be stored away from other materials and need to be handled correctly to avoid causing any harm. Appropriate safety equipment should be readily available for workers to access.

Hazard #10 – Poorly built storage facilities

Shelving and mezzanines that are made from inferior materials or built by non-professionals may lack the strength and reliability to handle your needs. A shelf collapsing is a major hazard that, at best, will damage stock, and, at worst, will seriously hurt someone.

Meanwhile, building a mezzanine is a big project to attempt unless you have experience, so it is best to leave it to a professional.

How to avoid this hazard

Having a professional team design and install your mezzanine and shelving provides peace of mind and leaves you with a better product than you could design yourself. Professional installers can inspect your workspace and talk to you about your needs. With this information, they can advise and guide you to the right product for you. Furthermore, they can install your shelves and mezzanine in half the time you can, saving you further time and stress.

Take action now to improve your warehouse safety

When it comes to warehouse safety, proper training, equipment maintenance, and a well-designed warehouse layout will make a huge difference. Storage racks, shelving, and mezzanines will help provide storage space for all your stock and help create a safer work environment for all your employees.

Advanced Warehouse Structures is the name to remember for all your mezzanine and shelving needs. Our expert team has decades of experience in building and designing mezzanines and is ready to meet all your warehouse storage needs.

Get in touch today to discuss your next project.