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A closer look at some of the dangers facing warehouse workers

When it comes to the notion of workplace injuries in the industrial sector, most of us automatically envision workers at construction sites or manufacturing facilities suffering all manner of bodily trauma during the course of their physically demanding duties.

While this is certainty an accurate vision, it overlooks another important industrial sector that employs over 700,000 people across the United States, and which sees a substantial number of work-related injuries each year: the warehousing and storage industry.

If you have a hard time believing this, consider the following figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Serious injuries among warehouse workers, meaning those resulting in time away from work, transfers or job restrictions, measured 3.9 injuries per 100 workers in 2012.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries among warehouse workers measured 78.1 injuries per 10,000 workers in 2012.
  • Strains, sprains and tears among warehouse workers measured 80 per 10,000 workers in 2012.

All of this, of course, raises the issue of what can be done to prevent these otherwise debilitating work injuries among warehouse and storage industry workers.

Fortunately, safety experts have compiled a comprehensive list of steps that workers can take to protect themselves. While a complete discussion of this list is clearly beyond the scope of this blog post, we can still take a brief look at some of the safety recommendations concerning receiving and shipping tasks, one of the more important duties in the warehouse and storage sector.

In general, receiving and shipping tasks involves everything from breaking down and building pallets to loading pallets and packing boxes for shipping. With these tasks comes an elevated risk of musculoskeletal injuries due to repetitive motions, awkward body posture and/or the lifting of heavy items.

In order to counteract these risk factors, safety experts advise workers to take such simple steps as practicing proper lifting techniques, using mechanical assistance and ensuring even distribution of weight.

Do you work in the warehouse and storage sector? If so, what have your experiences been concerning work injuries, workers' compensation and other related issues?

Source: EHS Today, "Ergonomics: Warehouse ergonomics/tips and techniques to decrease injury risk," Brandy Farris Ware and Jeffrey Fernandez, March 7, 2014

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