Warehouses pose more safety hazards than many people think. Workers’ compensation claims for warehouse-related injuries in California include forklift injuries, slip and trip-and-fall accidents, crush injuries caused by poorly stacked loads toppling over, and injuries caused by hazardous chemicals. In addition, a significant percentage of reported injuries involve lifting and manual material handling.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires that employers address all known hazards and provide safe work environments. However, many employers make little or no effort to provide employees with the necessary training of lifting techniques to avoid manual handling injuries. Warehouse workers spend their days lifting, carrying, placing, pulling and pushing boxes and awkwardly-shaped objects.
Poor lifting techniques typically cause musculoskeletal injuries, sometimes immediately and others over time. Repeated lifting can cause progressive harm that could eventually render the worker unable to continue working. Workers can prevent some of these injuries by testing the weight of objects before lifting it and ask for help when necessary. Using trolleys and other mechanical systems like conveyor belts, if provided by the employer, can also reduce the number of lifting injuries.
Although injured workers in California are typically eligible for compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages, proving those injuries that develop over time as work-related might be difficult. For this reason, the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney are often sought to assist with the navigation of benefits claims. If the musculoskeletal injuries have already caused enough harm to prevent a worker from continuing his or her occupation, additional compensation may be available. These benefits might include vocational rehabilitation, which will give the worker the opportunity to learn new skills in preparation for obtaining an alternative job.