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Ergonomics Tips: Prevent These 3 Common Warehouse Injuries

Ergonomics Tips: Prevent These 3 Common Warehouse Injuries

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)
Prevent Common Warehouse Injuries in the Workplace
5.5 injuries occur per 100 full-time warehouse and storage workers every year.U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

The tasks that the warehousing and storage industry are primarily engaged in are: “labeling, breaking bulk, inventory control and management, light assembly, order entry and fulfillment, packaging, pick and pack, price marking and ticketing, and transportation arrangement.” U.S. BLS

The warehouse and storage sector may have a high variety of tasks, but they have one very common factor:  “a high rate of strain and sprain injury. Compared to other industries, musculoskeletal injuries occurred twice as frequently.  These injuries most often affected the back, upper extremities and knees, and most likely were caused by exposure to material handling or other ergonomic-related risk factors including high applied force, awkward postures, short cycle times or long work durations without adequate breaks.”

Here are 3 of the most common risk factors and some ways to reduce injury:

1. Slip and fall injuries. According to the 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 1 in 4 accidents in the warehousing and storage industry occur when employees fall, trip, or slip. Here a few common reasons workers may fall, slip, or trip in the workplace while walking:  water or chemical spills, accumulations of dust or powder on floor, electrical cords and hoses positioned across walkways, general clutter on walking surfaces.

To avoid these common injuries, employers should keep the floors clean and free of clutter. Some equipment requires wires or hoses to be in a walkway, if this is the case, they should be covered with protectors to prevent tripping. All walkways and docks over four feet should have railing. And be sure to keep all areas well lit – if it is difficult to see, then it is more likely for a worker not to see potential hazards in their way.

2. Exertion and repetitive stress injuries. A lot of warehouse and storage work will require exertion and repetition. Poor body posture and improper lifting are common reasons for injury, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Some common injuries are: musculoskeletal disorders, back, and knee injuries.

To avoid injury, ensure that employees are educated about proper lifting procedures and that the workplace has proper ergonomic design.

3. Equipment-related injuries. Often, warehouse and storage companies will purchase equipment to reduce lifting injuries. However, the equipment purchased to avoid injuries can lead to new safety risks. According to OSHA “forklift accidents cause about 95,000 injuries every year. Other equipment that pose a safety risk would be: conveyor belts, hand trucks, power tools and compactors.”

First and foremost, proper training and procedure is a great way to prevent workplace injury. Additionally, proper gear (goggles, helmets, reflective vests) can help protect from hazards. Ensuring that your workers receive proper certifications to operate heavy equipment (as well as keeping these up to date) is also a great way to prevent equipment-related injury.

Consider contacting an ergonomics expert to assess your work environment. As experts in the field, we strive to make sure all workplaces remain a safe and healthy environment for all.

Be sure to share these tips with your workers or employees. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

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Tips to Survive the Night Shift

Tips to Survive the Night Shift


By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Solutions Northwest, Inc. – Arcata, California

to the National Sleep Foundation, “45% of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily activities at least once a week.” This statistic becomes even more worrisome for those that work the night shift or have a rotating shift schedule, as they may be more likely to experience trouble sleeping.

What are the risks of working an irregular work schedule?

According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, “there is a 27.9% increase in work-related injuries during night shifts when compared to morning shifts.” This is likely due to the body experiencing disrupted sleep patterns. An example of a disrupted sleep pattern would be an employee that normally works night shifts, but returns to a daytime schedule on her days off. A disrupted sleep schedule makes it difficult for the body to adjust and could lead to Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD).

What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)?

Shift Work Sleep Disorder occurs when you have trouble sleeping due to working an irregular work schedule. SWSD is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder defined as: insomnia and excessive sleepiness affecting people whose work hours overlap with the typical sleep period. There are numerous shift work schedules, and they may be permanent, intermittent, or rotating; consequently, the manifestations of SWSD are quite variable.

How can you be proactive about your sleep?

While not everyone with an unconventional work schedule will suffer from SWSD, it is important to remain proactive about your sleeping habits. Here are a few tips from the Human Factor and Ergonomics perspective:

  1. Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, consistency is important.
  2. Choose a job location that is close to home, a short commute will give you more time to sleep.
  3. Work with all of the lights on to stay alert.
  4. Purchase items such as blackout blinds to block sunlight or circadian lighting gadgets that slowly brighten until you wake up.
  5. Limit caffeine during the end of your shift.
  6. Silence your cell phone during your sleep hours.
  7. Avoid bright light after work, wear sunglasses and avoid running errands.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you survive a night shift or rotating shift schedule. Remember to always listen to your body and be sure to consult with your doctor for more information. For more guidance on all things ergonomics, visit or Contact our Ergonomics Consultants for more information.

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Why Shower Grab Bars are for Everyone-Prevent Slip and Fall Injuries

Why Shower Grab Bars are for Everyone-Prevent Slip and Fall Injuries

Shower Grab Bars Ergonomics

By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Solutions Northwest, Inc. – San Diego, California

I used to think grab bars in the shower were just for the elderly and disabled. I’ve changed my mind. Grab bars are a good idea to have in every shower. The number of pro athletes who have been injured by falling in the shower goes to show that even if you are in peak physical condition, it can happen to you.

Reds’ Raisel Iglesias injured back and elbow in shower |

Falcons’ Tevin Coleman is in the league’s concussion protocol. The rookie third-round pick slipped in the shower Wednesday at the team facility.

Dolphins’ Laremy Tunsil’s ankle injury caused by slipping in shower

That’s not even a complete list of all the pro players who have been injured by slip and fall accidents in the shower.

When we first bought our house, we did some major remodeling. One thing I wanted to do was take out the institutional looking grab bars in the guest bathroom’s shower. The contractors told me I would have to re-tile the entire bathroom to do it, so I decided to leave the grab bars in there for now and just put up a shower curtain. Below is a picture. Architectural Digest, it is not.

As I lived with this grab bar situation, I realized that while it was not attractive, it had some perks. I could hang a wash cloth on it like a towel bar. I could put a bottle of dog shampoo on the bottom bar while my dog was wiggling around and trying to escape. If I started to slip in the shower, I could grab it to stop a fall. If I did fall, I could pull myself back up with it. If I wanted to stay in this house as I age, like the Age In Place movement promotes, it’s a smart idea.

I started thinking that I liked having grab bars in showers, I just didn’t like how the grab bars in my shower looked. Manufacturers must have caught on that people like me wanted attractive grab bars, because there are great options available now. Many new models of grab bars look like towel bars, shelves, and shower door handles. They come in finishes to match existing bathroom fixtures such as chrome, nickel, and ORB. They look nothing like the institutional grab bars which are in my shower.

Here are links to attractive grab bars:

Moen Grab Bars

Delta Grab Bars

Kohler Grab Bars

With new grab bar designs, a safe shower can look like it came from the pages of House Beautiful. There are other safety considerations such as the best way to install grab bars and the slip resistance rating of tiles, but I’ll save that for another day.

P.S. The funniest sports injury I came across while researching for this article was from Steve the Ump’s List of Strange Sports Injuries. “Red Sox rookie Clarence Blethen thought he looked older and meaner if he took his false teeth out when he pitched. He forgot to put them back in his mouth when he was batting. While sliding into second base to break up a double play, his own teeth bit himself in the butt.”

For more guidance on all things Ergonomics, visit or Contact Us for more information.

Stopping the Spread of Work Safety Fails

By Celeste McLaughlin, BA, CEOE, CDMS, CPDM

It’s funny to look at pictures of safety fails which were caught before anyone actually got hurt. The funniness ends when the people creating the safety fails are employees at your company. Pictures of Funny Safety Fails

People are social creatures and naturally emulate one another. While this behavior has sociological benefits, it can be a disaster when an employee’s behavior is creating a safety hazard. We’ve seen it happen many times at different companies.

If one employee has an idea to stack a filing cabinet on top of his desk to create a standing desk, that is a problem. If 20 other employees see his desk before you do and then go on to create their own makeshift desks, that is an even bigger problem. The filing cabinet on top of the desk scenario was a real situation I saw while doing an ergonomics evaluation. When we see safety fails while doing ergonomics evaluations at companies, we always let employers know about them.

I bring up the filing cabinet on top of the desk scenario because we often see things employees have stacked on top of their desks to create standing desks when we go out to companies to do ergonomics evaluations. Besides the obvious danger of things falling and injuring someone or breaking equipment, there are ergonomics risk factors which are created when employees create their own standing desks out of different objects.

There are standards for workplace equipment which we follow when recommending equipment. If standards are not followed, injury can occur. That’s why it’s so important to stop bad safety habits before they spread throughout a company. ANSI Standards

For more expert ergonomics advice, Contact and we’ll be happy to help.














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