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5 Most Common Warehouse Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Most Common Warehouse Injuries - Sitecraft

Recent studies show that almost 500,000 Australians every year experience a work-place related injury or illness.

This staggering figure only tells a fraction of the story – but it raises significant concerns. For business owners and warehouse managers – employee safety is a top priority. Therefore, it is vital to implement effective strategies to protect employees and avoid unnecessary injuries.

Unfortunately, warehouse staff, machinery operators, and drivers were among the top occupations to experience work-related injuries in Australia – caused by lifting, pushing, pulling, repetitive movements, and several accidental incidents like slipping or falling. In this article, we will detail the 5 most common warehouse injuries and how to avoid them in your business to maintain a safe and productive environment.

What are the Hazards in a Warehouse?

Warehouses are busy environments, bustling with activity and potential hazards. For every warehouse in Australia, it is essential to evaluate every possible risk and implement strategies to prevent hazards from causing injury. Some of the main risks to be aware of are:

  • Heavy machinery
  • Elevated platforms
  • Warehouse racks
  • Pallets and boxes
  • Trolleys and containers
  • Slippery, cluttered, or uneven surfaces
  • Hazardous substances


What are the main hazards in a warehouse?

How to Prevent Warehouse Injuries

Before we get into the specifics of Australia’s most common warehouse injuries – we wanted to provide a few general tips to help you prevent injuries in your warehouse. Our 5 primary tips include:

  1. Creating best practices and training staff on these practices
  2. Continuous education and training for staff (including manual handling and forklift operating training)
  3. Maintaining (quality) machinery and equipment
  4. Keeping work environments clear and organised
  5. Encouraging employees to take breaks to avoid fatigue and overexertion


How to Prevent Warehouse Injuries

The 5 Most Common Warehouse Injuries in Australia

1. Forklift Injuries

Despite being an essential piece of equipment in any warehouse – forklifts are one of the key contributors to warehouse injury in Australia.

Often, forklift-related injuries are caused by carelessness, fatigue, lapses in concentration, poor visibility, or a disregard for traffic management and warehouse standards. The most common accidents that happen as a result include collisions, forklift overturning, or large loads collapsing.

How to Stop Forklift Injuries

There is a lot that you can do to help prevent forklift injuries, including:

  • Regular forklift operations and safety training
  • Clear signage and warehouse traffic management systems
  • Keeping warehouse floors clear and racks organised
  • Routine maintenance and equipment checks

2. Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries are caused by repetitive motion (or lack of motion) and spending long periods maintaining uncomfortable or strenuous potions. This type of injury is prevalent among assembly line workers on their feet all day or warehouse employees shifting large loads in precarious positions.

The most common repetitive strain injuries among warehouse workers in Australia include:

  • Carpal tunnel
  • Muscle strains and joint problems
  • Neck and shoulder pains
  • Epicondylitis
  • Hand, finger, thumb, and wrist injuries

How to Avoid Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries are preventable for most people. Implementing simple and effective prevention techniques is the best way to avoid permanent damage, including:

  • Taking regular breaks
  • Practising proper manual handling
  • Using ergonomically designed equipment
  • Encouraging task variety and collaboration among staff
  • Following a tailored strength programme outside of work


Most Common Warehouse Injuries

3. Injuries Caused by Hazardous Materials or Substances

A hazardous material is anything that can cause physical harm – either directly or indirectly. For any warehouse where you distribute or produce volatile, flammable, or generally hazardous materials, you need to be extra careful – as one spill or accident could endanger everyone in proximity.

If they are not appropriately controlled, hazardous substances can be inhaled, swallowed, or come in contact with employees’ skin or eyes, which can lead to:

  • Chemical burns
  • Poisoning
  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches

How to Prevent Problems from Hazardous Materials

Preventing injuries related to hazardous substances requires consistent effort from everyone in your warehouse. With the proper training and protocols – you can create a safer work environment. However, without these critical elements – you create unnecessary risk and danger for staff.

The most important procedures and methods to prevent hazardous substance injuries include:

  • Proper dangerous goods training
  • Providing the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Regular inspections and maintenance of storage and handling facilities
  • Clear signage to indicate potential hazards
  • Proper waste management protocols
  • Best practices for how to clean any spillages

4. Accident-Related Injuries

Accident-related injuries are ripe across Australian warehouses – ranging from individuals slipping or falling to collapsing warehouse racks and shelving. While these incidents can be catastrophic, they vary in severity. Sometimes, employees escape with a small bruise or cut – but can also result in serious injury including, torn muscles, broken bones, and even life-threatening head injuries.

Falling Objects and Collapsing Warehouse Racks

A chaotic and disorganised warehouse is a recipe for disaster. Falling objects and collapsing warehouse shelving (due to improperly stacked pallets or overloaded shelves) is a serious problem. Depending on the size and weight of the objects that fall, the resulting injuries can be traumatic or even sometimes fatal.

Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are among the most common accidents in Australia – often leading to broken bones or other serious injuries. Particularly in busy warehouses and during intense work periods for employees – slippery floors, loose materials on the ground, uneven surfaces, or poor lighting can all cause people to trip, slip, or fall.

How to Prevent Accidents from Happening

To help prevent people from falling or tripping

  • Ensure all racks and shelves are organised and not overstocked
  • Keep the floors clear and create efficient traffic management systems
  • Maintain clear directional and informational signage
  • Repair any uneven or damaged surfaces
  • Train staff on all the essential protocols in terms of warehouse safety, spillages, and equipment handling
  • Regularly check and maintain warehouse equipment

5. Manual Handling and Overexertion Injuries

Given the physical nature of working in a warehouse, overexertion injuries are frustratingly common. These injuries might be related to poor manual handling practices from the individual or potentially because their employer has overworked them. Either way, the employer is responsible for checking in on their employees’ physical and mental wellbeing to prevent unnecessary injuries.

Typically resulting from lifting heavy or awkward objects, pushing or pulling heavy loads, or maintaining uncomfortable positions for extended periods – the most common overexertion injuries include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle tears and strains
  • Ligament and tendon sprains
  • Hernias
  • Severe and long-term spinal injuries

How to Prevent Overexertion and Manual Handling Related Injuries

The techniques needed to prevent overexertion injuries are similar to those implemented to avoid repetitive strain injuries. It is vital to take a multi-faceted approach, including:

  • Encourage staff to take regular breaks
  • Manual handling training on the correct ways to lift, carry, push, and pull
  • Use the best equipment to eliminate unnecessary manual labour (e.g. conveyor belts and wheelie bin lifters)
  • Install ergonomically designed workstations
  • Promote a culture of safety
  • Regularly check in with staff

Final Advice to Avoid Warehouse Injuries

Avoiding warehouse injuries takes a collective approach from every employee – from the CEO to the newest employee. It starts with creating a culture that promotes safety, then implementing tangible strategies to prevent injuries – including proper traffic management, adequate education and training, regular breaks for staff, and ensuring the warehouse is kept organised and clear.

Moreover, investing in quality equipment like conveyors, forklifts, and trolleys will make a significant difference – removing unnecessary stress and strain on employees and preventing accidents from happening (once they are used correctly). At Sitecraft, we are a leading provider of material handling equipment in Australia, and we understand the role that well-maintained, quality equipment has in reducing strain on warehouse staff and preventing overexertion injuries.

If you want to make your warehouse safer for employees, contact our team, and we can supply the handling equipment you require.