Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
Warehouses can be hazardous places to work. Workers can be seriously injured or even die as a result of warehouse hazards.
A warehouse is a commercial building used by manufacturers, importers/exporters, retailers/wholesalers, transport companies and other businesses for storage of goods, raw materials and other commodities.
Activities at a warehouse generally include loading and unloading various materials and goods from trucks onto pallets (racks) by hand and using forklifts.
Most injuries and fatalities can be prevented.
Employers are responsible for protecting workers from any hazards in a warehouse.
Some of the hazards workers could be exposed to include:
Pallet racks, usually made of steel, support heavy loads which could collapse and severely injure or kill a worker.
Racking hazards include:
Workers can be exposed to a range of high-risk hazards at indoor and outdoor shipping and receiving areas of workplaces, including loading docks. A review of events over the past 10 years shows workers continue to suffer serious injuries and fatalities as a result of these hazards. These fatalities have included workers being:
Workers in shipping and receiving areas can also be exposed to hazards involving external trucking firms contracted to deliver and carry loads. The truck drivers can be at risk if they are not familiar with the workplace. For example, there may be:
Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading causes of injuries resulting in lost time at work in Ontario. Almost 20 per cent of all lost-time injury claims to Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board involve slips, trips and falls.
Workers are at risk of back injury and muscular strains from lifting and moving heavy or bulky items of stock.
In all provincially regulated workplaces, employers and other workplace parties must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.
Some of the general duties of workplace parties include:
Workers should also be aware of their rights under the OHSA, including the right to refuse unsafe work and the right-to-know about any potential hazards to which they may be exposed in the workplace.
Employers, supervisors and trainers should emphasize the need for workers to communicate any questions or concerns that they may have about warehousing hazards. Supervisors or others involved in training workers should be familiar with some of the unique health and safety concerns faced by warehouse workers.
Call 1-877-202-0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for general inquiries about workplace health and safety. Always call 911 in an emergency.