In Georgia and across the U.S., the retail warehouse industry is booming. Amazon, for instance, operates over 150 million square feet of warehouse space and sells about 4,000 products every minute worldwide. The industry is becoming more fast-paced, stressful and dangerous for workers, though. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has put the injury rate among warehouse workers at 5.1 per 100 full-time equivalent workers.
There are numerous factors that make warehouses dangerous. Many warehouses are using autonomous forklifts and robots for the sake of efficiency, but these can lead to incidents if the proper safety protocols are not in place. Some employers, unfortunately, put efficiency and productivity above safety and never take the time to investigate safety hazards on the job site.
Besides robots, the presence of packages and other clutter around exits and in the aisles is risky. During the busiest seasons, employers should check their inventory flow so that they are not violating OSHA standards. Next, the stress and fast pace can lead to ergonomic injuries. Workers may overreach or twist their bodies too forcefully to reach a package, or they may use poor lifting techniques.
Training is essential. It should cover ergonomics, the way to communicate safety hazards, the hazards around exits and aisles, the use of respiratory protection, lockout/tagout and the use of mechanical power transmission products.
Warehouse employees can file a claim under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage if they were injured, but actually receiving the benefits they deserve is another matter since the employer will often deny payment. Before filing, though, they may want a lawyer to analyze their case and guide them through the process. If benefits are denied, the lawyer may assist with the filing of an appeal.