While nearly every occupation carries a risk of on-the-job injury, warehouse workers often face challenges from two fronts. Not only must they safely navigate heavy machinery, but they must also endure repetitive stress from lifting, carrying and moving boxes all shift long.
Even though there are countless ways to get injured while working in a warehouse, the scenarios generally fall into five categories:
- Heavy machinery accidents: While many people think of a warehouse as simply a storage facility, boxes, pallets and other materials must be moved and organized. Transportation can utilize pallet jacks, lift trucks, scissor lifts, forklifts or rail-guided reach trucks. Any of these machines can malfunction leading to severe injuries and a lengthy recovery.
- Pallet rack collapse: No matter the size of the warehouse or the storage needs, they are often lined with enormous pallet racks with wire decking. While heavy-duty, it is not uncommon for these storage systems to fail, collapsing into the work zone or spilling heavy product from dozens of feet above ground.
- Toxic exposure: While this might be more of a danger in production facilities, warehouse workers often come into contact with dangerous materials. This usually comes in the form of powerful cleaning solvents but can also happen when storage or shipping containers begin leaking material. Employees can face exposure through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact.
- Slips, trips and falls: From slipping in spilled liquid to tripping over product stacked along narrow aisles, warehouse workers face serious injuries due to falls on every shift.
- Repetitive stress: Workers who perform the same task over and over again will likely put enormous stress on various body parts. From lifting hundreds of boxes off a conveyor system to stacking product for storage all shift, this strain can damage ligaments, tendons or muscles to the point of impacting mobility.
Warehouse worker injuries are often severe including multiple fractures, deep lacerations, head trauma or spinal cord damage. Fortunately, injured employees can seek workers’ compensation benefits to remain financially stable while healing from a serious injury.