Over the past 18 months, warehouses have had to ramp up production due to an increase in demands, quicker turnaround times, and staffing decreases and challenges. All of these factors create a safety risk, and whenever a rush is in play, injuries are more likely to happen.
In 2020, there were more warehouse and shipping accidents than there were construction, service, transportation, and shipping combined. That trend continued in 2021 as warehouses became busier and busier during the pandemic. What factors contribute to the rise in warehouse worker injuries? And what are common causes of warehouse injuries? Let’s take a look at why warehouse workers are at risk on the job, and how companies can keep their employees safe.
Factors in Rising Warehouse Worker Injuries
There are several reasons warehouse worker injuries are on the rise over the last few years, but the main culprits are related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to workers missing shifts because of illnesses, the workplace itself has become more hazardous as a byproduct.
Notable factors in rising warehouse worker injuries include:
- Increase in Demand: Online sales soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic, many people sheltered at home, and purchased items online that they would normally have picked up at a brick-and-mortar store. As the pandemic progressed, many people became accustomed to a stay-at-home lifestyle and continued with their online shopping habits. This increase in demand caused warehouses to be even busier than normal resulting in worker injuries.
- Employee Fatigue: Another factor contributing to work related injuries for warehouse workers is fatigue. With the increase in demand came longer hours for those working. Workers are often asked or even required to work longer hours to fulfill orders. Tired workers have a slower reaction time, aren’t as attentive to details, and have decreased decision-making abilities–leading to an increased risk for injuries.
- Inadequate Training: General safety and equipment training is critical to keep employees safe from workplace hazards. When training is skipped, or absent altogether, workers are at risk for injuries. With the drive to get workers on the job quickly, some warehouses may skip or severely limit the amount of training for new employees.
If you were injured in a warehouse accident, you are entitled to file a worker’s compensation claim. Worker’s compensation is designed to help you cover your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages until you can return to work. Worker’s comp claims can be complicated – especially if they are denied. A worker’s comp personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Causes of Warehouse Injuries
Warehouse employees are exposed to hard, physical labor, which can take a significant toll on their body and overall health. In addition to the risks of manual labor, warehouse workers are also vulnerable to other dangerous injury-causing factors including:
- Malfunctions with Heavy Machinery: Old or poorly maintained equipment is a leading cause of injuries in warehouse and manufacturing work environments. Forklifts in particular can cause serious and even life-threatening injuries when they malfunction. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 614 fatalities and more than 7,000 injuries caused by forklift accidents between 2011-2017.
- Falling Objects: In a warehouse setting, falling objects occur when stored items are not secured properly. Falling boxes, equipment, and materials can cause serious head and neck injuries. A heavy item can cause a skull fracture, concussion, and even a traumatic brain injury.
- Slips, Trips and Falls: Slips and falls are the number one cause of injuries for warehouse workers, and the leading cause of worker’s compensation claims. Slips and falls happen quickly and are often the result of water, oil, wax, grease, or debris-covered floors.
- Collapsing Racks: Warehouse employees can suffer serious and life-threatening injuries when knocked down or trapped by falling and collapsing racks. Racks can collapse or fall if they are not secured or built properly.
- Ergonomic Strain: Repetitive motion is another cause of warehouse employee injuries. When workers are required to do the same motion over and over again, it can cause ergonomic strain on the wrists, elbows, and knees.
Warehouse worker injuries are often preventable, but sometimes accidents still happen. If you suffered an injury at a warehouse because of machinery malfunctions, falling objects, a slip or fall, a collapsing rack, an ergonomic strain, or any other reason, reach out to a worker’s comp attorney to get help with your worker’s compensation claim.
Tips for Warehouse Worker Safety
Many warehouse injuries could have been prevented with proper safety measures in place. Workplace safety should be a top priority for warehouse management teams. Here are some tips to create a safe work environment for warehouse team members:
- Stay Organized. A well-organized warehouse floor can reduce the risk of injuries dramatically. Because most workplace accidents are the result of a slip or a fall, keep the floor clean and keep it clutter-free.
- Supply Appropriate Tools: If your warehouse workers are required to retrieve items from tall racks or shelving, make sure they have the proper tools to get the job done safely. Make sure ladders are safe to use, and if working at a significant height, harnesses can help reduce injuries in case of a fall.
- Provide Ongoing Training: Most companies provide safety training during the onboarding process but having ongoing training either once a month or quarter can reduce the risk of workplace accidents. Forklift training is especially important and is also required by law.
Both workers and employers can reduce warehouse injury risks by following these safety tips. Even with proper safety protocols in place, accidents can still happen. If you were hurt on the job, you have the right to file a worker’s comp claim. Worker’s comp can help you with your medical bills and lost wages while you recover.
Lancaster’s Worker’s Compensation Law Firm
Warehouse workers have been put to the test the last two years with increased hours, labor shortages, and hazardous working conditions. Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. in Lancaster, Pa. is dedicated to helping injured warehouse workers get the compensation they deserve after an injury accident. Our team of attorneys knows the worker’s compensation process inside and out and can help you with your claim. Don’t let your employer’s insurance company dictate your settlement – talk to us first.
We offer free consultations, never charge a fee for our time, and are only compensated when we win your case. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a no-obligation discussion of your worker’s compensation claim.