My friend and his fellow logistics technicians have been working overtime at their wa ...
rehouse jobs ever since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. They’ve been processing an excess of “undeliverable” products ordered by companies that shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
My friend says: “Now it’s like Christmas season all the time. We were so behind they brought in 20 temp workers.”
To get some insight into what warehouse employers can do to keep workers safe during this extra-busy time, I spoke with Jose Barranco, a manufacturing Consultation and Education Services manager with WorkSafeBC, and a past safety manager at Amazon.
Review forklift/pedestrian safety procedures
The first thing Jose mentioned was the importance of keeping people safe while they’re walking near moving equipment. This is especially crucial when there is a lot of inventory taking up space as stacks of product can create blind spots for people crossing paths.
“Before you cross, you need to confirm with the forklift driver that they are giving you the right of way,” says Jose, adding that he’s seen situations where the pedestrian aisle has become a storage location or a forklift parking location. “Employers need to evaluate the warehouse layout to ensure that any risk areas are addressed and resolved.”
It’s also important to make sure temporary workers understand the practices and procedures for pedestrian/machine safety.
Says Jose: “When you add new people into the mix, you need to make sure they are trained properly to avoid causing additional hazards.”
See Fields of Vision, a video series from WorkSafeBC, for more about improving communication between truck operators and pedestrians.
Ensure trucks are safe for loading/unloading
Employers need to have a process in place for confirming a truck trailer is safe for loading or unloading. The truck must be securely attached to the loading bay via a “dock-lock” — a hook from the bottom of the trailer that attaches to the dock.
Jose says there have been situations where forklifts have fallen into that gap between the truck and the loading bay, which has resulted in fatal consequences in the past. He adds that busy times can affect people at work, which can increase the risk of incidents when loading and unloading trucks.
“When the amount of anxiousness and stress in a workplace increases, this can lower our ability to concentrate. I’ve seen, in my own experience, that when situations get very stressful, this [loading/unloading safety] is one of the systems that could be affected.”
Be aware of the potential for stacked items to fall
Workers need to avoid stacking products in ways that make them unstable. If they fall over and someone is in the way, the consequences can be deadly.
Forklift drivers often think they will be safe because they have a rollover bar, says Jose. “But depending on the weight and characteristics of the products, you could be trapped for quite some time until people gather the right equipment and resources to remove the collapsed product.”
See WorkSafeBC’s information on storage racks for more on how to move materials on and off storage racks safely, either manually or using mobile equipment.
And of course, be sure to keep informed by WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 information and resources. Thanks to Jose for speaking with me at such a busy time.
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Hauling garbage is no picnic in the park. It’s dirty, it’s smelly, it’s tough. ...
It’s also dangerous.
WorkSafe BC statistics reveal that workers in the garbage, debris, industrial waste, and recyclable material removal sector have an injury rate 50% higher than those in the general transportation sector, and almost three times the provincial average.
As a professional truck driver, if you’re hauling solid waste or recyclables, you’re part of that high-risk group. The good news is that reducing your risk is mostly a matter of awareness, good work practices, and proper equipment. SafetyDriven provides a wide range of free online resources such as articles, posters, courses, safety talks, and videos to help you work safer.
According to WorkSafe BC, the top three sources of injury in this sector are:
• Being struck by a vehicle or object
• Falling from an elevation
Overexertion means doing more than your body is used to or capable of. It can cause sprains or strains to backs, knees, shoulder, or other parts of the body. A sprain is an injury to the bands of tissue that connect two bones; a strain is an injury to a muscle or the band of tissue attaching a muscle to a bone. They both hurt and can be serious. Whether throwing a big tarp over a load or moving heavy, awkward objects, professional drivers can easily be injured. You can avoid overexertion by understanding and using good manual material handling practices—such as keeping the back straight, using leg muscles to lift, turning with the legs rather than twisting the back, and warming up the muscles with light exercise (never stretch cold muscles).
Many drivers are struck by a vehicle or object while working outside their own trucks. At landfills and transfer stations, watch closely for forklifts, bulldozers, compactors, and other heavy equipment, as well as vehicles driven by nonprofessional drivers who may be using the facility. Wear a high-visibility vest to help drivers in their cabs spot you on the ground, remain alert at all times, and assume that other drivers cannot see you. Along with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), be sure to wear a hard hat, gloves, and eye protection when outside your truck to protect you from falling objects and debris.
Falls from heights account for more than one in ten injuries in BC’s waste removal sector. “Accidental falls are another concern…especially in facilities with pits or direct dump designs where the drop at the edge of the tipping area might be 5 to 15 feet deep,” according to “Transfer Station Safety Issues I” in WasteAdvantage Magazine. Falls can happen when drivers climb onto trucks to tarp or even when they enter or exit the truck cab. To prevent falls, always wear proper footwear with slip-resistant soles, use three points of contact, and ensure that ladders, steps, and other equipment are in good condition before climbing. Be alert for pits and drop-offs and respect guardrails.
For more on safety issues related to waste transport, visit SafetyDriven.ca and check out the following links:
• Stay Focused to Stay Safe
• 6 Tips to End Trucking Workplace Injuries
• Loading & Unloading: Make it Simple, Make it Safe
You can depend on SafetyDriven for all your safety needs.