Warehouses and fulfillment centers in California pose many life-threatening hazards. If your employer is more focused on the bottom line than employee safety, damaged stock and equipment breakdowns might receive more consideration than your welfare. However, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health mandates that employers must provide workplaces that are free of known hazards.
Cal/ OSHA provides safety guidelines for all industries, and compliance with safety standards is crucial. If you learn more about these standards, you will be able to recognize safety hazards and learn how to protect yourself from harm.
Slips, trips and falls
Slip and trip hazards are present in almost all workplaces. Without proper housekeeping, you will likely encounter the following fall hazards:
- Wet spills include anything from spilled coffee and leaking liquid containers to leaking roofs or wetness brought in from outside by forklifts or even the work boots of co-workers.
- Randomly placed pallets and boxes can cause trips and so can gravel brought in by forklifts, debris and snaking electrical extension cords.
- Wearing shoes with non-slip soles can prevent slips, and if you make a point of putting things where they belong, your co-workers are sure to follow your example.
It is not only falls from heights that are dangerous, a same-level fall can be equally catastrophic, especially if you strike your head against a hard object.
Forklifts are valuable tools in many industries, including warehouses. In many facilities, the dangers posed by forklifts do not receive enough consideration. Forklift accidents come in the following types:
- Driving into objects can cause damage to the forklift, the racking and the merchandise. However, if there is another worker between the forklift and the rack or any other fixed object, crush injuries can be severe or even fatal.
- The second kind of hazard involves the mishandling of materials, most frequently unbalanced or unsecured loads. Falling boxes or other types of containers can cause serious injuries to the forklift operator and any workers close by.
If you want to stay safe while operating a forklift, never do so without the required training, and never allow other workers to hitch a ride on this dangerous machine.
Injuries caused by handling materials are almost par for the course among warehouse workers. Keep the following in mind:
- Lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying and placing heavy objects can cause immediate injuries, or they can develop over time. Regardless, they can become debilitating and jeopardize your ability to continue working.
- Injuries can affect your back, feet and shoulders, with low back pain most prevalent.
You can prevent these injuries by learning proper lifting techniques.
Falling object hazards
Stacked boxes and objects of all shapes and sizes are what warehousing and fulfillment centers are all about. The high expectations and fast pace synonymous with these facilities often lead to shortcuts and subsequent workplace accidents. Stacking merchandise on shelves and platforms without securing the stacks poses life-threatening risks for those present when a stack topples over.
If despite all your precautions you suffer serious workplace injuries, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injury. For any injury that causes temporary disability, you will receive benefits to cover your medical expenses and a percentage of your lost wages. However, if your injuries cause permanent disability, additional compensation will be awarded. To ease the benefits claims process, you can seek the services of an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney.