What are some stats around warehouse accidents and the costs they can create for a company?
It’s no secret that accidents are costly – financially, but also in terms of employee health and morale. Warehouse employees are exposed to a number of strenuous and potentially dangerous activities that threaten their safety on a daily basis. In fact, OSHA estimates that the number of forklift-related accidents alone total nearly 100,000 per year.
It’s safe to say that forklifts are one of the biggest hazards in a warehouse. Consider the following:
- 90% of forklifts are involved in some type of accident over the course of their lifetime
- 11% of forklifts in the U.S. are involved in an accident each year
- 80% of forklift accidents involve a pedestrian
It makes sense, then, that forklifts hold the number two spot for where the most accidents occur (learn more in Forklift Safety 101: Tips for Preventing Forklift Fatalities). The number one spot goes to the loading dock, while conveyors, materials storage, and manual lifting and handling round out the top five.
If you work in a warehouse, you know it’s a busy environment with lots of people, product, and lift trucks. Given the nature of warehouse work, the top three injuries should also come as no surprise:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Injuries from lifting, pushing, pulling, or reaching
- Material handling and forklift accidents
Slips, trips, and falls aren’t just the number one cause of injury in the warehouse – they’re number one overall. U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicate that these accidents account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths, a quarter of all injury claims, and an astounding 95 million lost work days every year.
The Cost of Warehouse Accidents
The thing about accidents is that the effects can be far-reaching and long lasting – and not only for the individual involved in the incident. The cost of accidents can be enormous for companies.
According to the National Safety Council, a worker injury costs companies an average of $38,000 in direct costs, which includes things like medical bills and rehabilitation. It’s the indirect costs, however, that tend to add up, and the Council estimates that companies pay about $150,000 per accident. These indirect costs cover everything from damage to equipment or vehicles to loss of productive time due to lowered worker morale and training costs for a replacement worker.
Then there are the OSHA fines, which may be applicable depending on the nature of the accident. OSHA citations aren’t uncommon in the warehouse environment. They are often issued for things like:
- Hazard communication
- Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
- Portable fire extinguishers
Fines from OSHA can be costly for businesses. Serious and other-than-serious infractions come in at $12,600, while willful or repeat violations will cost you $126,000.
Here’s the good news: the warehouse doesn’t have to be such a dangerous place. With proper planning, effective employee training, and good work practices, it’s entirely possible to defy these statistics and keep your warehouse running smoothly and incident-free.
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