In a number of industries and facilities, the most common activity the workers perform is the stocking of shelves. From pallet racks to wire shelving, stocking and retrieving items off various storage shelves is how most warehouse workers will spend their time.
But this sort of repetitive motion comes with a number of risks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released several reports indicating that workers in warehousing and/or retail are at the highest risk of musculoskeletal disorders, and that 33% of all workplace injuries are related to muscle issues stemming from improper posture, lifting, and the like. If you want to prevent this sort of injury in your workers by restructuring your current shelving installations and procedures, we’ve got a few tips to get everything started:
- Keep frequently used items in easily accessible areas. Any popular or commonly-needed items should be between knee- and shoulder-height to reduce strain when lifting.
- Heavy or oddly-shaped items should be kept above the elbow, near eye-level height, to prevent lower back and/or shoulder injuries due to improper lifting posture.
- It may be an old cliche, but making sure your workers know to “lift with the knees, not the back” – proper posture and technique is the easiest way to prevent injuries in the workplace.
- Make sure your workers are aware of the limits and regulations of all the storage equipment they use – weight limits, operating procedures, and so on.
- Perform regular safety checks to make sure all your equipment is operating properly and is safe and functional to prevent accident or injury.
- Redesign your floor plan as needed to provide extra room to work – keep the floor free of obstructions, make sure there’s ample space between different shelves to make sure everyone has room to stock and replace items, and make sure nothing is close enough to create a safety hazard.
While safety is an ongoing process that requires everyone’s participation, these steps are a good way to get started on some best safety practices to keep everyone in the habit.