According to the US Department of Labor, as many as 20,000 warehouse workers are injured in forklift accidents alone each year and around 100 people are killed in those forklift accidents each year.

And these accidents are not limited to heavy industrial warehouses. For instance, in June 2014, 52-year-old Jody Rhodes was killed at an Amazon warehouse when machinery she was operating to move pallets crashed into shelving and pinned her.

If you work in a retail warehouse or your are thinking of applying for a role in one, here are a few of the safety issues that are relevant to the industry.

Be Seen, Be Safe!

Visibility is of paramount importance when working in any warehouse. The need to always be visible becomes even more crucial when you’re in the warehouse yard surrounded by heavy trucks and vehicles, or if operators driving fork lift trucks and other warehouse machinery are frequenting the area. If you can’t be easily seen, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury – and for this reason, it’s usually required that you wear a high visibility jacket, polo top or vest whenever you’re at work. You’ll also be responsible for making sure that other people who enter the warehouse are wearing suitable high visibility clothing. Don’t think that it’s the managers’ job to make sure everybody puts on a hi-viz vest, as it’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure that this safety measure is always taken.

Operating Machinery

Working in a warehouse will usually mean that you’ll need to learn how to operate machinery such as fork lift trucks, pull trucks, and loading dock lifts. Making sure that you’re fully trained in using these machines if necessary, as even though they might seem easy to operate, you’ll need to make sure that you’re covered if an accident does occur. If you haven’t completed and signed all the relevant training manuals and do have an accident when you’re operating machinery, you might not be eligible to claim against your employer.

Heavy Lifting

Retail warehouse jobs often include a lot of manual, heavy lifting of boxes and packaging – especially if you’re working in a supermarket warehouse, where you’ll have to ‘split’ all the cargo that comes in on a wagon onto pallets ready to be taken to the relevant aisle or department. Because of this, you’ll have to be in pretty good physical shape, as well as fully aware how to correctly lift heavy boxes and items without damaging your back muscles.

High Shelves and Racking

Most retail warehouses will have high shelves and racking for storing goods, and if they’re not stacked correctly, can pose a serious safety issue. You should always make sure that there’s nothing hanging from the racking such as shrink wrap or other materials that could be pulled down and cause goods to fall, as well as ensuring that everything’s correctly stacked in a stable manner without any overhangs or over stacking issues. If you use a fork lift truck, you should always take great care when stacking high shelves or racking – go slow, and if you can’t see, ask somebody to guide you when moving the pallet of goods.

When working in a warehouse, it’s vital to keep safety in mind.  Remember these tips, and ask for help when you need it.