Warehouses in Minnesota tend to be out of sight and out of mind. Significant numbers of people work in them, however, and they face numerous workplace hazards. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, warehouses produce an above-average number of worker injuries when compared to other industries. Citations against employers for safety violations begin at $7,000 each, and costs run high for medical care and legal battles related to injured workers.
Forklifts present the primary danger in warehouse settings. Nationwide, approximately 20,000 workers suffer serious injuries every year because of forklift accidents. Overturning forklifts create the most danger. These incidents account for 25 percent of the fatalities among warehouse employees. In addition to forklift-related accidents, injuries arise very often from slips, trips and falls as well as ergonomic issues.
When an accident hurts a warehouse worker, the direct expenses, like medical care, reach an average cost of $38,000. Indirect costs equal $150,000 on average per accident victim. If an OSHA investigation finds that an employer repeated a previously cited offense, the fine could rise to $70,000.
Business consultants encourage employers to control these costs with training and vigilant adherence to safety procedures. Such actions could reduce incidents, but workplace accidents still occur. A person hurt on the job may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation, but information about how to file and what benefits are available might be difficult to obtain. An attorney can often be of assistance with these matters, and legal counsel might provide representation during the appeals process if the claim is disputed or denied.