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Warehouse work is changing, and so are the hazards

As we welcome a new year, it is only natural to look back and see how far we have come and how much things have changed. For example, the progress of technology has certainly changed the lives of individuals as well as workplaces across the country.

Industrial and warehouse jobs may have changed the most. With the rise of online retailers as well as the addition of artificial intelligence within the workplace, industrial workers have faced a constantly changing landscape.

Although the goal of this technology and these changes is generally to make workers' jobs easier and reduce the chance of dangerous industrial accidents, it seems that the rapid changes in the workplace are creating even more hazards.

Report: Warehouse injuries and fatalities are dangerously high

According to EHS Today:

  • Warehouse fatalities doubled in just two years, going from 11 to 22 deaths annually; and
  • The nonfatal work injury rate in warehouse work is at 5%. This is the same rate of injuries in the farming industry, which carries one of the highest rates of injury and illness.

The report states that one of the primary factors that increased both the rates of injuries and fatalities is the race to adopt technology to improve logistics. This race may have introduced autonomous robots and forklifts into the workplace, but safety standards are not keeping up.

2020 could bring even more risks for warehouse workers

EHS Today states that these new hazards will lead warehouse workers to face an even higher risk of injury in the coming year for a few reasons:

  1. The technology controlling these robots and forklifts is still imperfect and could malfunction; and
  2. Employers might overlook or delay providing workers with the proper training in how to work with these machines in favor of productivity.

If workers do not receive the proper training in how to interact with these machines, then the article's prediction may come true.

As work environments change, beware of new injury risks

Modernizing the workplace might be necessary to keep up with the times as well as the competition, but it should never come at the expense of workers' safety. Warehouse workers can collect workers' compensation for an accidental work injury, no matter what kind of risks they face on the job (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment § 9-507).

However, warehouse workers must ensure they take measures to prevent injuries, including speaking with their supervisors about proper training, as they continue to get used to these changes in the workplace.

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