Warehouse hazards endanger Pennsylvania workers

Warehouse facilities present many dangerous hazards to employees. People who are injured while on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Scattered across the United States are 7,000 warehouses that employ over 145,000 skilled workers, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Working in a warehouse environment can be dangerous, and employees must be well-trained, skilled and focused while on the job. One small mistake may lead to a serious work-related injury or the death of an unfortunate Pennsylvania employee. In fact, OSHA states that the fatal injury rate of the warehousing industry is above the national average of all the industries in America.

While there are many different types of warehouse hazards, the following are some of the most common.

Forklift accidents

Forklifts are utilized in many different industries, and are heavily relied upon in most warehouses. According to OSHA, approximately 95,000 people are injured and 100 people are killed each year in forklift accidents. While some of these incidents may be attributed to employee error or reckless operation, other accidents may be caused by poor training or improper maintenance of forklift parts. Forklift accidents can have a wide-variety of catastrophic results, including traumatic brain injury, loss of limbs, broken bones, permanent disfigurement, paralysis and death.

Lifting injuries

When warehouse workers use improper techniques to physically lift and carry loads, they are putting themselves at risk for back injuries. Over time, improper lifting can put serious strain on a worker's back and may cause a herniated or slipped disc to occur, or an aggravation of pre-existing degenerative disc disease. Musculoskeletal disorders, such as rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, can also be caused by poor lifting habits. Even using proper lifting techniques can unfortunately lead to injuries.

Slip-and-fall accidents

Slip-and-fall accidents caused by spills and unguarded holes are another common warehouse hazard. These accidents can occur when an employee fails to cover an open hole or clean up a dangerous spill in a timely manner. People who slip and fall because of another worker's negligence should be eligible for workers' compensation benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act.

Not using proper safety devices

All warehouse machinery should be equipped with certain safety devices to minimize employee risk to dangers. In one tragic incident, the manager of a Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania sugar warehouse chose to remove an essential safety device from one of the machines. This decision ultimately cost an employee his life. According to ProPublica, the manager believed that the part was slowing down production and had it taken out of the machine, which was designed to funnel sugar into bags for distribution. Approximately 13 days after the safety part was removed, a man was buried alive in sugar when he was unclogging the sugar chunks from the machine. The company responsible for running the warehouse is currently under investigation for sending Spanish-speaking workers into the warehouse without proper training.

Enlisting legal assistance

Employers have a responsibility to their workers to provide them with a safe and clean work environment. When a Pennsylvania worker is involved in a preventable workplace accident and suffers serious injuries as a result, he or she may want to seek legal assistance from a workers' compensation attorney. You may be eligible to receive compensation for scarring or disfigurement, payment of your medical expenses, and compensation for wages lost as a result of the work injury. In the event of death, your family could receive fatal claim benefits.

Keywords: workers' compensation, injury, warehouse, job