Lincoln Injury Blog

Fulfillment center workers face many fall hazards

Are you working in a warehouse or fulfillment center in the vicinity of Lincoln, Nebraska? Your employer could serve industries such as retail, manufacturing, automotive, restaurant, grocery, agricultural or fast food. Your tasks might include packaging, inventory control, warehousing and drop shipping.

There are a myriad of areas in these facilities that each pose a unique set of life-threatening safety hazards, many of which involve falls. Falls from unprotected loading dock edges, elevated mezzanine areas and other raised walkways are severe risks if facility managers fail to enforce compliance with safety regulations.

3 types of fall protection

The Occupation Safety and Health Administration's latest rules to prevent falls leave employers with the option to use one of the following types of fall protection when workers are at heights exceeding four feet from any lower level:

  • Guardrails: These are barriers on the exposed edges of elevated walkways to prevent you from falling to lower levels.
  • Safety nets: Nets are often stretched horizontally or semi-horizontally below raised areas to catch you before you strike a hard surface.
  • Fall arrest equipment: If you have a personal body harness with a sturdy lanyard attached to a secure anchor point, you may be able to arrest the fall before you hit the lower level. This system may include a lifeline and a deceleration device to control the speed of the fall.

Other methods of fall prevention

  • In-plant barriers: Barriers prevent access to dangerous areas. If you see safety barriers, you will know that danger exists beyond them. These could include perilous floor openings, forklift activity or other potentially high-risk activities. Barriers can also absorb the impact of vehicles such as a lift truck.
  • Mezzanine protection: Warehouses often have mezzanines and other elevated areas to store stock, and handrails and gates are essential. The double-gate or dual reciprocating system is an ideal form of protection because it will only allow one gate to open at a time. Opening one gate will give the forklift operator access to place the pallet, and if you are on the receiving end, you can only open the other gate to get to the pallet after closing the first gate.
  • Pick modules: The fast paced gathering, or picking, of products to fulfill orders is a risky process because items are located on multiple levels. After picking, the goods go onto conveyors or into totes or carts -- all at different levels, which increases the potential fall hazards.

What to do after a fall accident

If your employer failed to comply with fall protection regulations, you might now be suffering the consequences of a work-related injury. To be eligible for financial assistance, you must report your fall injury within a certain time period. The Nebraska workers' compensation insurance program aims to assist injured workers by paying for their medical expenses, and if your injury caused temporary disability, you could receive compensation for lost income.

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