Large forklifts hum and beep as they maneuver through miles of shelving at a large Dot Food storage warehouse in Illinois. The company’s warehouses are bustling, and future expansion projects are in the works to add 91,000 square feet of refrigerated and climate-controlled areas, Dot said. However, the warehousing industry’s demand is not on this company alone. A rise in e-commerce and technology is increasing the need for additional multifunctional warehousing and logistics providers. As warehouses increase their production and output capabilities, safety is key in running a smooth working operation.
Warehouse Industry Booming
A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that in the past year, the transportation and warehouse sector has increased by 6.4 percent. Retail industry giants such as Amazon and Walmart, have seen the amount of logistics infrastructure they own nearly double in the past year and expect a steady pace of growth to continue. Smaller warehouse companies also are looking to keep up with growth to achieve efficiencies and to add safety features, with about half of warehouse industry respondents in a USA Today study saying they want to either upgrade existing systems or implement new management systems in the next two years.
According to ResearchandMarkets.com, the global warehousing and storage market was estimated at $475 billion in 2017. The global warehousing and storage made up around 8% of the overall transportation services market in 2017. The warehousing and storage market was the fifth largest market in the global transportation services market in 2017. In this industry, there is no shortage of work. When there is more work, there is more chance of injuries.
Plans for Safety
Warehouse work is physically demanding in a fast-paced environment. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ warehousing and storage workplace industry report, there are five injuries per every 100 warehouse and storage employees and there is an average of 15 workplace deaths per year. Some of the common causes of injury in warehousing are:
- Rack Collapses: Regularly inspect pallet racks and ensure items are stored using a system such as 5S to keep the warehouse in an orderly and safe fashion.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls: Minimize any slip, trip, or fall hazard by keeping warehouses free of clutter.
- Hazardous Materials incidents: Spills of any kind can be dangerous if not taken care of quickly or responsibly.
- Forklift Crashes: Keep work vehicles properly maintained. Enforce warehouse traffic safety through the use of a strong visual communication program.
With the number of warehouses in the United States increasing, safety managers and workers can increase safety in any facility. Evaluate the facility for hazards by doing a walk-through job hazard analysis. Create a safety checklist and update the overall workplace safety program. Use active, progressive planning for safety in facility management that examines emerging trends and employs practical solutions quickly and efficiently to keep pace with business demand.