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Avoiding work injury requires knowing potential hazards

Harrisburg's top employers are the state and federal governments. But from a historical perspective, the region is known as a major logistics hub. As products ship from east to west, north to south, they often make stops here. Warehousing and storage facilities abound.

Those with experience in workers' compensation filings know that workplace injuries can happen in any setting. It doesn't matter if your ensconced in an office or on the front lines of industry, risks exist. Injuries may vary in severity depending on the job, but none should be taken lightly.

Workers compensation is the no-fault program intended to insure hurt workers receive the medical care they need to recover, while at the same time providing financial security through the process. Unfamiliarity with the program and its complicated requirements can leave workers at a disadvantage when dealing with insurers, unless they enlist help from experienced legal counsel.

Common warehouse hazards

Of course, best way to avoid injuries is to prevent them from happening. That can be hard to do in the warehouse and logistics trade. Potential danger sources are many. According to government statistics, some 16 people die in warehouse facilities each year and five out of every 100 warehouse employees suffer injury or work-related illness. What follows is a list of some of the most common hazards.

Fork lifts

Lift trucks are workhorses in any logistics facility. They may be zipping around, sometimes quite speedily. With very compact centers of gravity, it doesn't take much for accidents to happen. Regulations require that drivers be at least 18, and be trained and certified for the work. Safe use rules also recommend that operators do daily equipment checks before they start work.

Docks

One small attention breach can result in disaster. Improper deployment of a dock ramp can mean an unstable surface that leads to a worker falling off the platform. One wrong turn by a fork lift operator, or approaching the dock recklessly could result in a truck running off the dock entirely.

Conveyor systems

Productivity means moving goods smoothly and quickly throughout the facility. Mechanized conveyor systems provide the answer. Injuries can occur if products on the system fall off or if workers get clothes or limbs caught in the equipment.

Material handling

The higher a bulk container is placed, the greater the hazard if it should happen to fall. Heavier containers should be on lower shelves. Safe handling requires adequate space at ground level and as high as the shelves go. Handling of hazardous materials should include training on avoiding spills and what to do when one occurs, including use of personal protection equipment.

Power plants

Energy for warehouse equipment runs the gamut from electrical power to propane or gasoline. Ignoring safety rules on charging and refueling can lead to fires and explosions. Powered equipment that remains energized should be subject to lockout-tagout procedures that all appropriate workers should be trained in.

It's not possible to prevent every accident and injury. Minimizing them requires attention to detail. When injuries do occur, workers need to take necessary steps to protect their interests and their workers' compensation rights.

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