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 accidents such 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 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, and virtual 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.
Ravenna, OH – Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) imposed a $1.6 million fine for a vehicle parts manufacturer’s 38 safety and health violations. The company was cited with four repeats, 18 willful, and 16 serious safety and health violations, following an investigation into the death of a 43-year-old worker on March 30. The tragedy happened when the barrier door closed on his head when loading a part into a machine.
OSHA alleged that General Aluminum allowed employees to bypass guarding mechanisms designed to prevent the barrier door from closing on them. A malfunction in the door’s optic control also existed before the deadly incident. The OSHA investigators also found a lack of Lockout / Tagout and effective safety management procedures throughout the vehicle parts maker’s facility, in addition to failure to protect employees from burn and explosion hazards.
General Aluminum Mfg was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) and is subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and increased agency pressure to abate cited hazards. Willful violations will be cited when an employer knowingly disregarded safety and health law and regulation or acted indifferently for employee safety and health. “OSHA will continue to hold bad actors accountable and emphasize the importance of complying with safety and health requirements that can save lives,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said in an agency statement.
Risk can be found in any workplace; it’s essential to avoid becoming complacent with health and safety procedures. Workplace health and safety training can positively influence an organization’s efficiency and productivity, reducing costs and saving lives. A robust health and safety policy cultivates a safe company culture. It helps organizations build a good relationship with their employees, supports businesses to achieve high recognition and good standing in their industry.
Prince William, VA – An extended power lift hit an electrical transmission line causing the death of a construction worker from injuries. The incident also resulted in a power outage that affected schools and more than 46,000 residents in Woodbridge and Lake Ridge, according to Dominion Energy spokeswoman Sharonda Shepard.
The accident was first reported to Prince William County fire and rescue units at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24, according to Assistant Fire Chief Matt Smolsky. Prince William Fire & Rescue teams worked with Dominion Energy to rescue the two construction workers trapped in the power lift. It came in contact with power lines near a Shorehaven apartment complex located in the 1600 block of Porters Inn Drive near Walmart. The Dominion Energy crews delayed the rescue effort until they could ensure it was safe. The worker’s death has been categorized as unattended and is under investigation by the Prince William County Police Department.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 5,333 fatal work injuries in the 2019 report. It represents the most significant annual number since 2007 in the United States, with a 2 percent increase from the 5,250 in 2018. Everyone would agree that we want to continue to decrease the number of workplace accidents across Canada, the United States, and the rest of the world.
To break the increasing trend and the number of fatal accidents, Martin Technical strongly encourages organizations to develop a caring and motivating culture towards employees by scheduling regular workplace health and safety training.
SAN MARCOS, Texas – A Tortilla Factory was Cited in a LOTO violation. The lockout/tagout violation, or failure to control hazardous energy, was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA investigated El Milagro of Texas, a tortilla factory in San Marcos, and found the failure to comply, as reported by KVUE ABC News on June 15th, 2021.
The company, El Milagro, failed to comply with LOTO procedures that would prevent the sudden start-up or movement of machines during maintenance and servicing. This citation has resulted in a fine of more than $218,000.
According to KVUE’s article, the tortilla factory that was cited in the LOTO violation by OSHA has also been cited for these violations in 2015 and 2018.
OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins was quoted as saying, “…Energy control and lockout/tagout procedures are vital to protecting workers in manufacturing facilities. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they fail to comply with requirements to prevent worker exposure to dangerous hazards.”
El Milagro of Texas will have 15 business days from the receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
COLUMBUS, GA – A Facility has been given 22 serious citations by OSHA. HPPE LLC was given a safety and health inspection at its Columbus chemical manufacturing facility. According to ValdostaToday, the inspection was conducted under OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks. The inspection has resulted in a proposed $136,816 in penalties.
JACKSON, AL – A Spice importer has been cited by OSHA. iSpice is a global spice importer located in Jackson, Alabama. OSHA reported on April 23rd that they are citing the company $121,511 in penalties.
The workers were found to be exposed to amputations, struck-by, crushed-by and electrical hazards. OSHA found iSpice allowed workers to clean the plant’s mixing machines without employing lockout tagout. They employer also failed to implement energy control procedures, train workers on lockout/tagout, and use machine guarding in regards to a rotating portion of the mixer.
Other hazards included allowing workers to use industrial trucks with a damage seatbelt; failing to ensure drivers were competent to operate the equipment; exposing them to electrical hazards by allowing boxes and outlets that were uncovered or lacked faceplates to be used; and a fan with a splice in the cord to be used.
In their press release, OSHA quoted Area Director Jose Gonzalez, “This employer put their employees at serious risk needlessly by failing to provide training and implement well-known protections. These protections are not optional, they are every workers right.”
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.
Martin Technical provides Lockout Tagout services and training to help companies avoid citations such as these and the accidents they can cause.
The Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) recently announced its top 10 safety violations for the 2020 fiscal year. Every year, OSHA announces its top 10 most frequently cited safety violations. This helps alert employers so they may prevent these hazards before they take place.
No. 10:Machine Guarding
Last year Machine Guarding ranked number 9. In 2020 it received 1,313 citations. It’s reassuring to see fewer citations in this standard. But, worker amputations continue to be a concern.
No. 9: PPE and lifesaving equipment related to eye and face protection
The previous year, eye and face protection was in spot number 10, so this citation has increased. This relates to PPE that prevents eye and face injuries including chemical, environmental and other hazards. This can include Arc Flash-related injuries. So, proper Arc Flash labeling programs are critical in ensuring PPE is worn in these situations.
No. 8: Fall Protection Training requirements
Citations were given out for failure to provide proper training materials and programs.
No. 7: Improper Use of Industrial Trucks
The Improper Use of Industrial Trucks held the same ranking as it did last year at 1,932 citations.
No. 6: Lockout Tagout (Control of Hazardous Energy)
Lockout Tagout went down from number #5 in the year prior. In 2020, it held 2,065 violations. Improper training and procedures are often to blame. Martin Technical offers LOTO training to prevent accidents and citations of this very kind.
No. 5: Improper use of Ladders
2,129 citations were given for the Improper use of Ladders in 2020.
No. 4: Scaffolding
Scaffolding moved from #3 to #4 in 2020 with 2,538 citations.
No. 3. Respiration Protection
This standard had 2,649 citations in 2020, moving from #5 to #3. This is both due to lack of fit testing and program management.
No. 2. Improper Implementation of Hazard Communication
Hazard Communication relates to the evaluation and clear identification of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Related citations in 2020 numbered at 3,199.
No. 1: Fall Protection
Fall Protection has been the number one citation for 8 years, with 5,424 citations in 2020. In partnership with PIXO VR, we offer fall protection training through Virtual Reality training allowing a “hands on” experience of a previously inaccessible training experience.
These top 10 alone make up a total of 24,239 citations. What will you do to prevent citations, injury, and deaths in your facility in 2021?
If your safety program needs a tune-up, contact Martin Technical today. We look forward to earning your business. Call us at 866-234-6890, email [email protected], or contact us here.
Henderson, NV – The Nevada Occupational Safety and Hazard Association (Nevada OSHA) is investigating the death of Harry Kenneth Peterson III, as reported by The Las Vegas Review Journal. Last week, the fire department was called to a rock quarry described as the Viento Puntero Pit.
Fire Department Chief, Shawn White, reported what he was told by emergency crews. Crews were informed that Peterson had been helping others move a rock crushing machine to another area of the work site.
When part of the machine was apparently jammed, Peterson tried to fix it and was caught in the machine. Rescue workers said it was not clear how he became stuck. White reported Peterson had head and chest injuries. When rescue crews arrived, Peterson had already been removed from the machine.
When emergency crews arrived, Peterson was breathing and transported to to Sunrise Trauma. On Friday, Peterson succumbed to his injuries at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.
The death has been ruled an accident. The Fire Department has contacted Nevada OSHA to investigate the work site death. A related police report was released Wednesday. It did not contain details about the incident, except that it did not appear to be a result of a criminal act.
Nevada OSHA’s spokeswoman, Teri Williams, described Peterson’s employer as Las Vegas Paving Corp. The company lists their services on its website, including: asphalt placing, aggregate crushing & material supply, Design-Build. James Barker acts as Las Vegas Paving Corp’s general counsel. He did not comment out of respect for the family and because of the ongoing investigation.
Gainesville, FL – On January 28th a deadly nitrogen leak took the lives of six workers at Foundation Food Group poultry plant located in Gainesville, Florida. The leak occurred during unplanned maintenance on a processing and freezing line. The line was installed about a month prior, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s report on January 30th.
In addition to the six dead in the nitrogen leak, there were 11 injuries, one more individual was sent to the hospital, and 130 other workers were forced to evacuate. Katherine A. Lemos, CEO & chairwoman of the CSB stated the investigation “…may take up to several years.” New information is still coming forward, and will continue to do so as Lemos suggests.
What We Know Currently
In the CSB’s report from January 30th, it was detailed that there was a release of liquid nitrogen. This rapidly converted to a gas. Because the gas form of liquid nitrogen is heavier than air, it forced the oxygen out the room.
How the liquid nitrogen was released was not detailed. The CSB is currently working to isolate the exact location of release inside the plant. Additional damage to the plant was avoided when a manger turned off an external isolation valve after the leak began.
Other details noted in the report included: Tools were found on the ground near the equipment. The plant receives 2-3 18-wheel truckloads per day of liquid nitrogen. Manufacturers of interior equipment are being looked into, and the supplier of liquid nitrogen was noted in the report.
The CSB lacks the authority to issue fines or criminal charges. However, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the leak. The CSB has noted its investigations will include examinations and evaluations of multiple factors. The will include training as well as operations and procedures. Martin Technical encourages all industries and professionals to keep all employees up to date on training, as well as safety procedures and operations such as Lockout Tagout. Keep your team informed on all regulations and industry standards to prevent accidents such as these.
Eufaula, AL- Within the last month, there have been two fatalities in Tyson factories within the United States. A worker died on March 2nd at a Keystone Foods chicken processing plant in Eufaula, AL while cleaning a piece of equipment.
Barbour County Coroner Chip Chapman said in the report that 39-year-old contractor Carlos Lynn became “caught in a pinch-point of the equipment,” and that the cause of death was a decapitation. The official told the broadcaster that the equipment involved in the incident was a chiller.
Tyson Foods, the owner of the plant, told WRBL that operations halted at the facility the day following the industrial accident.
“We’re investigating an accident at our Eufaula, AL facility yesterday that involved a worker employed by an outside contractor and will provide more information when we can,” Tyson Foods said in a statement printed by the station. “We’re grateful for the swift response and assistance of local emergency personnel.”
Another worker died in a Tyson plant March 23rd in Garden City, Kansas.
Deputies responded to the plant for a man not breathing. EMS transported the man, identified as 30-year-old Kendrick Gregory of Garden City, to the hospital where he died.
The Finney County Sheriff’s Office said their initial investigation showed that Gregory was doing maintenance on the harvest assembly line when he was pulled up by harness against a takeaway belt. Another co-worker was able to cut him free.
These two fatalities in Tyson factories could have potentially been prevented with proper and secure Lockout Tagout procedures. Lockout Tagout isolates and locks each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in injuring a worker.