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7 Potential Hazards in the Warehouse and How to Overcome Them

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7 Potential Hazards in the Warehouse and How to Overcome Them

Bureau of Labor Statistics data also records that more than 3 million accidents occur in the workplace each year and many of them occur in warehouse areas. The warehousing and transportation sectors have the highest accident rates with fatal injuries compared to other sectors.

The warehouse is one of the vital elements owned by the company because it contains various kinds of company assets, both in the form of raw materials, semi-finished goods ( work in process ), spare parts, finished goods, chemicals, etc. These assets need to be properly maintained so that the company's productivity can continue to run optimally.

Therefore, there is one important thing that workers need to pay attention to when working in the warehouse area, namely occupational safety and health warehouse, so that the company losses from various aspects (cost, time, injury, and productivity) can be minimized. 

Moreover, the work process in the warehouse contains many potential hazards that can result in injury, so workers must understand work safety procedures when doing their work.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has identified common causes of accidents in warehouses, including:

  • Error when operating forklift
  • Improper or unsafe storage and stacking of pallets or goods
  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE) that is not appropriate or neglecting to use PPE
  • Inadequate OSHA procedures designed by management

Performing repetitive movements or improper manual handling techniques that result in spinal cord injury, muscle inflammation, and sprains, to injuries to soft tissues such as nerves, ligaments, and tendons.

Safety Tips for Working in Warehouse

1. Forklift Operation



Forklift accidents most often involve pedestrians, forklifts falling while lifting loads, loads falling when lifted, workers or operators being crushed by loads, and forklift collisions.


  • Forklift operators are required to attend training, so they can operate forklifts correctly and safely. Only competent workers are allowed to operate the forklift.
  • Operators must carry out routine maintenance and repair of forklifts to ensure that the forklift conditions are always safe.
  • Operators should carry out a thorough inspection before operating the forklift, including checking the battery or hydraulic fluid in the forklift.
  • Use seat belt before operating forklift.
  • Follow safe procedures when lifting and lowering pallets.
  • Avoid transporting goods beyond the specified capacity. Before operating the forklift, you can view the load chart on the forklift.
  • Operate the forklift at the recommended speed.
  • Slow down when cornering or crossing, when crossing rails or bumps, when on slippery roads, when passing through narrow areas, and when there are lots of pedestrians.
  • Avoid joking and being reckless when operating a forklift. Do not use a forklift for any purpose, such as transporting passengers or using a forklift to access work at heights.
  • Maintain a safe distance of about 3 meters between the forklift and pedestrians and with other forklift operations.

2. Manual Lifting/Handling Technic


Improper manual lifting/handling techniques will risk causing injuries such as muscle inflammation and sprains, joint and bone disorders in the hands, shoulders, spine, and feet, injuries to the muscles around the neck and head, and chronic pain to fatigue.


Perform a risk assessment on all manual handling activities and activities that pose a risk of injury.

If needed, you can redesign manual handling techniques and replace them with mechanical lifting techniques, for example using lift trucks, pallet trucks, or trolleys.

Perform manual handling techniques correctly, including:

  • Pay attention to the line of strength, meaning the posture of the body by positioning the legs in the direction of the load being lifted. The position of the horse will greatly affect the strength in lifting weights.
  • Lift weights as close to the body as possible and make sure your spine remains straight when lifting weights.
  • Keep the load close to the waist when objects are moved and your view must also be free from obstacles and the work area is free from distractions.
  • Walk sideways when descending stairs or hallways to maintain stability and make it easier to see the path traversed.
  • Make sure you keep your head straight and look straight ahead.
  • Do not lift the load more than the maximum weight limit.

3. Hazard Communication


Accidental inhalation of toxic chemicals, a chemical in contact with eyes, or burns resulting from exposure to hazardous chemical spills or splashes.


  • Make sure every hazardous chemical in the warehouse has a complete Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) data.
  • Make sure the chemical K3 signs installed in the warehouse area are visible and can be understood by workers.
  • Follow the instructions on the MSDS when handling hazardous chemicals.
  • Provide training to employees regarding handling, risks when exposed to chemicals, and personal protective equipment used how to clean up chemical spills.
  • Provide equipment to clean up spills and store them near chemical storage areas.
  • Establish written procedures for dealing with chemical spills.
  • Use proper personal protective equipment according to the potential hazards of chemicals.
  • Store all chemicals in a special and safe area.
  • Store chemicals in an area away from forklift traffic.

4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Failure to use PPE or using the wrong PPE can lead to hazards such as chemical spills or splashes, falling objects from above, slipping, and tripping.


Carry out a risk assessment to identify potential hazards in the work area

Use PPE that is appropriate to the potential hazard and type of exposure in the work area. For the warehouse area, workers can use PPE such as head protection, protective clothing, eye protection, hand protection, and foot protection.

5. Arrangement of Pallets or Arrangement of Items on Storage Racks (Racking)


Improper arrangement of pallets or items can result in falling items and injury to workers.


  • Do not use pallets that are already damaged or fragile.
  • Do not store goods with excess weight on pallets.
  • Store unused pallets in a designated area away from storage shelves.
  • Pallets or items must be placed on a flat surface.
  • Place heavier items in the lowest or middle position on the shelf.
  • Do not use pallet stacks or pallets on forklifts as access to work at heights or as working platforms.
  • With a racking system, you can install a net or net behind a shelf or safety fence to prevent objects from falling.
  • Arrange pallets or items neatly and safely.
  • Carry out periodic inspection of the shelves by a competent person.
  • Do not climb on storage racks or stacked pallets to avoid the risk of falling.
  • Use supporting PPE such as safety helmets, gloves, and safety shoes when working in the storage area.

6. Slip and Trip 


Slips and trips can cause serious injuries to the ankles, knees, and back. The UK Healthy And Safety Executive state that 90% of slip and trip accidents can result in fractures. Even more fatal, can lead to death. 

Causes of slip: spilled liquid (oil, grease, liquid soap) on the work floor; dry materials that make the work floor slippery (dust, flour, sand, sawdust); floor material is too slippery; fluid leaks from pipes, engines, or roofs; and the use of inappropriate footwear (flip-flops, high heels, slipper ).

Causes of tripping: many obstacles in the pedestrian area (cables, wires, hoses crossing); improper placement of goods; part of the floor that is missing or damaged, the change in the height of the floor surface is not marked; broken ladder or unequal ladder height; and inadequate lighting.


1. Eliminate various types of contamination on the work floor, but if the floor is already contaminated, clean the contaminants as soon as possible

2. Use a proper floor cleaning method

  • Spot cleaning is a method of cleaning the floor by only cleaning the specific point where the spill occurred.
  • Mopping or mopping the floor using a mop is effective on smooth floors.
  • Sweeping is a cleaning method using a broom. This method is suitable for cleaning garbage and various types of dry contaminants.
  • Wet vacuuming is a method used to clean liquid contaminants with the help of a special vacuum cleaner for wet areas.
  • Dry vacuuming is a method used to clean dry contaminants with the help of a dry vacuum cleaner. Effectively used on floors that have a rough texture.
  • Plan work operation routes to ensure that there are no obstacles such as piles of goods, equipment, or waste that interfere with pedestrian areas
  • Install an anti-slip coating on the work floor.
  • Install signs according to potential hazards in the area, such as slip and trip OHS signs  and floor markings.
  • Ensure adequate lighting in the work area.
  • Check the condition of the work floor to identify any uneven or damaged surfaces. Replace immediately if needed.
  • Cover electrical cables or hoses that run across pedestrian areas to minimize the risk of tripping and protect cables or hoses from damage.
  • Use proper and anti-slip footwear when doing activities in the warehouse area.

7. Application of Ergonomics in the Warehouse Area


Lifting techniques, repetitive movements or poor work design can cause work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) or muscle disorders caused by incorrect work postures when performing a work activity. If the muscles receive static loads repeatedly and for a long time, it can cause complaints in the form of damage to joints, ligaments, and tendons.


  • If possible, use powered equipment instead of manual lifting by manpower to lift items with excess weight.
  • Ensure adequate lighting in the work area.
  • Provide ergonomic training according to the type of work, such as manual handling techniques.
  • Perform a test of the load to be lifted to estimate weight, size, and mass, and to determine the correct lifting method.
  • Use your feet as support and keep your back straight when lifting things.
  • Ask a coworker for help or use an assistive device if you are hesitant to lift things.
  • Do not twist your body when lifting things. It's best to slowly slide your feet in the direction you want.
  • Keep the working floor condition clean, not slippery, and free from obstructions.

In addition to the hazards and solutions above, warehouse operations also require a lockout / Tagout program to prevent equipment from turning on unexpectedly or releasing hazardous energy from equipment that could cause accidents and serious injury to workers.

In essence, management in warehouse operations related to safety aspects is very necessary to find out the potential hazards in the warehouse and how to control them, design safe, ergonomic warehousing, and improve work safety in warehousing, to increase company productivity.

A lockout/Tagout program is necessary for warehouse operations in addition to the risks and solutions mentioned above to stop equipment from turning on unexpectedly or releasing dangerous energy that could result in accidents and serious worker injuries.

To construct safe, ergonomic storage spaces, enhance labor safety in warehousing, and boost company productivity, management of warehouse activities connected to safety committee, characteristics are fundamentally important.

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