Metropolitan Atlanta is the fifth-largest market in the U.S. for warehouse space. With about 800 million square feet of space, Georgia is a go-to state for corporations looking for affordable warehousing, and also one that logs thousands of workplace accidents. Nearly 250,000 Georgia workers are employed in warehouses in Warner-Robbins, Gainesville, Macon, August, Atlanta, Columbus and more. Unfortunately we continue to see a significant number of Georgia workers injured in the warehouse.
One of the most dangerous aspects of warehouse work is using the forklift. Forklift accidents are reported to cause over 95,000 injuries and 100 deaths every year. Falling debris and machine malfunction as well as carelessness can result in serious injuries while using a forklift, from closed-head trauma and back and neck strain, to crushed limbs and even death.
Additional hazards in warehouse work include back injury from heavy lifting, cuts from power tools and bone breaks from collisions with small motor vehicles. As about 8,000 trucks leave ports each day in Georgia, there is constant loading and transporting in and out of warehouses. Vehicle movement, stocking, loading and unloading present potential risks to warehouse workers.
The department of labor reports the highest number of ‘days away from work’ cases in 2013 were logged by Private sector laborers; freight, stock, and material movers and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers: segments consistent with warehouse-oriented labor.
Playing it safe in the warehouse
So how do Georgia’s warehouse workers keep from becoming a statistic? Here are a few tips:
- Never stand on the forks during operation. Falls continue to be a number one source of injury in the workplace.
- Stack the forklift load only as high as the vehicle mast allows. Double-stacking presents a significant injury risk.
- Secure loads properly. Use appropriate straps and fasteners to minimize risk of falling debris.
- Forklifts are not designed to transport people. Resist the temptation to use the forklift for a ride. That is an extremely dangerous practice.
General Warehouse Safety:
- The warehouse is not a place for horse-play or negligence. It pays to be alert and cautious. Employers will not always pay for accidents caused by negligence.
- Mind the ergonomics: make sure you move with intention and are positioned to reduce risk of falls.
- Keep conditions moderate. Extreme temperatures can cause employees to tire more quickly or possibly lose their grip on machinery.
Employees at a Belnick, Inc. furniture warehouse in Canton, Georgia recently filed a complaint with OSHA, reporting extremely cold temperatures in the warehouse. News reports said employees used plastic wrap and engaged in exercise to stay warm on the job. While cold temperatures is not a direct violation, employers should do all they can to protect workers and help keep them focused on the job.
The Ramos Law Firm has been advocating for injured workers for 10 years. If you have been injured at the warehouse or if you have a question about a workplace injury, contact us for a free consultation.