Warehousing is one of the riskier industries due to high-powered machinery and vehicles operating within proximity of each other. Rapid growth in e-commerce is driving an ever-increasing demand for the delivery of products in shorter timeframes. Industrial and commercial warehouses are to keep up with this demand while complying with the current safety expectations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports thousands of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the warehousing industry annually. Many of those are caused by workplace accidentssuch as slips or falls, hazardous materials, and equipment malfunction. Warehouse safety should be the employers’ utmost priority to keep employees safe, ensure efficient operation, maximize productivity, and minimize injury or damage. Below are some factors to consider when planning a safe work environment for warehouse employees.
Building a Safety Culture and Procedures
Establishing comprehensive safety procedures can help prevent workplace accidents in warehouses and promote a safe work environment. An engaging safety procedure starts from the top-down; management should walk the talk in cultivating such values into the company culture. While employees may have the required certification for the job, this does not always include in-depth safety training. Thus, providing ample opportunities for employees to access safety resources, including signage, safety stickers, regular safety meetings, and safety training, is essential in creating a safe work environment. Consider developing training programs with the help of industry subject matter experts that offer blended and interactive training solutions. Ideally, a comprehensive training program should include a good mix of on-site training, hands-on validation, online learning, webinars, toolbox talks, andvirtual reality courses in multiple languages for easy access.
Other good practices include posting signs around the warehouse indicating different safety procedures, regular communication on safety tips, and announcements on new safety procedures. Incentivize workers to take safety courses and recognize their efforts to demonstrate exemplary safety protocol. Consider putting together a safety handbook or manual that includes potential hazards, safety protocols, and rules.
Establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout program that includes clear and precise lockout procedures for all workers is imperative, especially in heavy machinery warehouses. Routine training on using the equipment, shutting it down correctly, and isolating the power sources by following the proper lockout tagout procedures can prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety in your warehouse.
Warehouse workers are more likely to internalize the safety culture and take it seriously when they know the company is responsible, accountable, and invested in their well-being. A safe work environment helps warehouses build a good relationship with their employees and supports businesses in achieving higher recognition.
TOCCOA, GA – A recycling plant has been cited in a fatal fall that occurred on December 2020 in Toccoa, GA. OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has cited Scrap Master Inc. after determining they failed to equip stairs and platforms with guardrails to prevent falls, exposing workers to fall hazards.
The inspection also resulted in citations for failures to mount and mark fire extinguishers, repair powered industrial trucks, provide a training program on powered industrial trucks, develop and utilize specific procedures for employees performing service and maintenance activities on machines, and prevent workers from being exposed to occupational noise levels above the allowable time-weighted average.
In total, OSHA cited Scrap Masters with eight serious and five repeat violations, which resulted in a proposed $164,308 in penalties.
OSHA Acting Area Director Michael Hejazi was quoted as saying, “Implementing required safety procedures can mean the difference between a tragic incident and everyone going home safely to their families.”
The recycling plant cited in the fatal fall, Scrap master Inc. recycles plastic automobile gas tanks, according to OSHA’s press release. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
YEOSU, South Korea – Sunday, January 10th, 2021, a 33-year-old mechanic for a coal storing company at the national industrial complex in Yeosu died after his body got stuck in a machine used for coal transportation.
According to Yeosu Fire Station, the contract worker was caught in the machine starting around 7:55 p.m. Sunday and was taken out from the machine at 10:32 p.m. by rescuers dispatched to the scene.
The badly injured worker was transported to a nearby hospital in cardiac arrest and ultimately died there around 11:42 p.m. The accident occurred while he was inspecting the machinery with another worker, who was the one that initially reported the emergency to the company.
Police and labor authorities in South Korea are investigating the exact circumstances of the incident and whether there have been any violations of safety guidelines. Machine Safety is essential to stay trained and informed of, even with routine inspections.
In 2018, another worker fell to his death three meters off of a conveyor at the same company.
Hudson, N.C.- Last Tuesday, 12/29/20, at Sealed Air Corp. plant in Hudson, North Carolina, worker Alan Rothenberger was trapped in a machine for 45 minutes.
He was airlifted to a hospital and is currently in a coma due to brain damage caused by lack of air-flow to his brain for 10 minutes after the incident.
The North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) division has begun its investigation into the incident.
“Based on the preliminary information that we have at this time, an employee was threading up a machine when their body was pulled into the machine causing crushing injuries to their torso,” OSHA said in a statement.
The incident is believed to have taken place when rollers did not have a clear stop or release button accessed, potentially being a lockout tagout machine issue or fault. Sealed Air. Corp manufactures bubble wrap and foam.
Winnipeg, Canada – Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health is investigating at Gerdau Long Steel North America after a worker was injured in an accident at the mill in Selkirk on the weekend.
A spokesperson for the steel mill confirmed to press that a worker at the Gerdau Manitoba Steel Mill was injured and is expected to be released in “the next day or two.”
According to the province, the unnamed worker fell approximately eight feet from a stepladder and sustained a “serious leg injury,” and then was airlifted to a nearby hospital.
The incident is now under investigation. The company was issued two improvement orders related to ladders directly relating to this incident.
Improvement orders are issued when a priority contravention is noted; they require measures to be put in place by a specified timeframe in order to ensure the safety and health of workers. Approximately 7,000 improvement orders are issued annually in the province of Manitoba.
Every company has different needs and training requirements, which is why Martin Technical offers blended learning solutions internationally to countries like Canada.
Workplace Safety and Health have been notified of three other serious incidents ranging in injuries at the workplace this year, the spokesperson told the press. Some of these incidents also warranted improvement orders.
Commerce, GA- A construction worker at the SK Battery plant in Jackson County, Georgia was declared dead after he sustained injuries from a three story fall.
The accident itself took place November 4, 2020 at the plant’s Formation Building. Reportedly the worker fell through a hole in an air vent 46 feet above the ground, later landing on top of a female worker standing below who also sustained injuries.
Jackson County deputy coroner, Jeff Rogers, said the 34-year-old Augusta man suffered brain injuries and was kept on life support until this weekend. The female worker remains in critical condition but is ultimately expected to survive.
Some workers have told reporters at FOX 5 they worry sub-contractors are sacrificing safety for speed. “You take chances in our trade and you wind up dead,” warned Randy Gregory when FOX 5 Atlanta talked to him in September.
This month’s accident follows other recent injuries at the site. Recently, one worker was hospitalized after he fell through a ceiling, while another allegedly fell through a roof. Fall Protection Training actively addresses the factors that lead to such incidents like these three occurring.
Deputy coroner Rogers said the investigation by OSHA will determine whether the man who died followed safety procedures and at what fault the subcontractors and company will be held at.
“They’re going back out to the site,” explained the deputy coroner. “They’re interviewing witnesses, employees that were there that saw the accident.”
Bruce Township, MI- A plant worker died last Tuesday at a factory after a 25,000-pound manufacturing mold fell on top of him. The factory, about 40 miles north of Detroit, is part of Romeo Rim Inc, which creates custom injection molding services, and had recently celebrated a year without any safety incident.
Deputies and the Bruce Township Fire Department found the man, identified as 42-year-old Davi Spano, underneath the equipment that had fallen from one of the interior plant walls.
“At this time, this incident appears to be a tragic accident,” the sheriff’s office was quoted as saying. The accident was responded to just before 10am, and no other workers were reported to be injured.
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) was contacted following the incident, authorities said. Martin Technical reiterates the need for on-site training and courses to prevent such incidents from occurring.
Ipoh, Malaysia – A worker at a Top Glove factory in Ipoh, Malaysia lost his hand in an accident at the end of October.
The incident occurred at the factory at approximately 5:54 AM when the worker’s hand was severed because it was caught in a rotating shaft of a machine. Reportedly, the worker is in stable condition and was initially treated with first aid at the factory then taken to the hospital.
One of the worker’s colleagues told Free Malaysia Today they have been under pressure as a factory to keep up with the demand of supplying medical PPE/gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2018, A Thomson Reuters Foundation exposed and uncovered that some Top Glove workers were working significantly overtime, logging 12-hour shifts and clocking 90 to 120 hours of overtime a month.
This incident in Ipoh occurred towards the end of 13 shift for this particular worker.
Top Glove has said that the company has complied with Malaysian labor laws. Top Glove is the world’s largest manufacturer of gloves, and the news of this machine incident comes weeks just weeks before it has been reported that as many as 17 employees tested positive for Covid-19 since January.
Nampa, ID- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently investigating an explosion that occurred last month at Amalgamated Sugar as an open case.
Jessica Anderson, an Amalgamated Sugar spokeswoman, stated that the explosion occurred in the morning in a sugar beet pulp steam dryer. The cause of the explosion remains unidentified, and the damage reported to the factory is regarded as minimal.
Anderson said that none of the injuries were life-threatening; four were treated with first aid, one worker, William McMilian, was taken to a local hospital for injuries and further examination. McMillian suffered second degree burns on his head and on his back, as well as third degree burns on his arm that possibly will require a skin graft.
The employees were wearing appropriate fire protection gear, according to Anderson, though McMillian said that the protective gear did not stop the injuries from occurring.
“We are still investigating the situation, and will release more details as they become available,” Anderson told the Idaho Press.
This is not the first accident occurring at Amalgamated Sugar’s Nampa facility; over the past 35 years, four people have died at the factory. The most recent death happened in 2009 with the death of worker Mario Munoz, 45, whose body was discovered in an auger. The company ultimately paid $18,900 in fines in an OSHA settlement in the case of this 2009 death.
Buffalo, NY- The body of a Buffalo Sewer Authority contractor whom fell down a well leading into the Niagara River was recovered last week in upstate New York.
The well at the city’s water treatment plant is 15 feet deep, and extends to feed into the Niagara River. The man was not wearing a life vest nor was he tethered or anchored to anything.
The Buffalo Police Department stated that its underwater rescue and recovery team was responding to a water rescue call near the foot of Ferry & Bird Island in Buffalo. The victim’s body ultimately recovered on Bird Island.
“Once he fell into this confined space, it’s a very intricate intake system that meanders into a lot of different areas, so it’s a very difficult process to find out exactly where he could’ve been. There was a hope that he could’ve gotten snagged on something as soon as he fell into the well, but unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case.” Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo stated.
Confined space training and confined space rescue training lower the risk of accidents becoming tragedies.
Police said the investigation is considered an incident, it was not noted at this time if OSHA is involved yet.