Within warehouse environments, various types of work-related injuries can and do occur. In some cases, these injuries happen when employers cut corners on safety or compel fast-paced work beyond reasonable expectations. In other cases, work hazards are ignored, which can lead to severe work injuries. Warehouses are the scenes of constant activity, such as forklifts moving back and forth and trucks coming and going. Often, fast-paced work environments such as occur in warehouses result in negligence, accidents, and injuries.
Below are seven common injuries that occur in warehouse work environments:
1. Overexertion injuries
Injuries resulting from overexertion in a warehouse setting are often related to lifting injuries, which cause damage to the neck (cervical spine), shoulder areas, and lower back (lumbar spine). These kinds of injuries can also include hernias. Lack of proper equipment, failure to properly train workers, or failure to follow proper procedures can lead to these injuries. Labrum tears in the shoulder and rotator cuff injuries are common injuries resulting from overexertion.
2. Forklift injuries
Unsafe forklift operation, inadequate training, improperly maintained equipment, crowded warehouse environments, or simply freak accidents can result in forklift injuries. These injuries may involve the pinning or crushing of a worker against the floor or wall surface, forklifts crashing into other forklifts, forklifts overturning, or forklifts colliding with objects or shelving. Injuries can include fractures, cuts, and even death.
3. Repetitive stress injuries
Stress injuries can occur as a result of a failure to rotate employees within lines that involve repetitive activities and high piece rates. Some common types of repetitive injuries that can occur in warehouse work environments include carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, neck injuries, shoulder injuries, tenosynovitis, epicondylitis, DeQuervain’s syndrome (involving the wrist) and cubital tunnel syndrome.
4. Falling object injuries
Injuries that occur from falling objects are often due to unsafe conditions involving human error, poor setup of operations, carelessness, and unsafe stacking of objects. A falling object can cause serious head and brain injuries or neck injuries involving cervical disc herniations. Other injuries include back injuries, shoulder injuries, rotator cuff tears, and injuries involving lumbar disc herniations.
5. Slip and fall injuries
These types of injuries occurring in a warehouse are often the result of grease, residue, paper, cardboard, or cords lying in areas of travel within a facility. Slip and falls can cause injuries to the shoulder, back, and neck, in addition to knee injuries involving strains, ligament tears, meniscus tears, and hyper extensions. These hazards are often caused by inadequate cleanup, improper procedures, and failure to keep a work area safe.
6. Loading dock injuries
Injuries in or around loading docks may involve forklifts or manual lifting activities. In some cases these injuries may result from an employee falling off the back of a truck or sustaining a shoulder injury as a result of interacting with malfunctioning or tight cables.
7. Caught between injuries
These injuries occur when a worker is caught between two objects. In some cases, one or both of the objects may be a moving object, such as a forklift. A worker may sustain one of these injuries if he or she attempts to move or lift materials with the use of equipment, which results in the crushing of the worker’s hand, foot, fingers, or toes in between heavy objects. In other cases, equipment or machinery such as a forklift may fall over onto an employee and cause a crushing injury between the equipment and the floor.
Options after sustaining a warehouse injury
An injury is generally work-related if it occurs during the performance of work for the benefit of an employer. For example, in a warehouse setting, if you are lifting or loading boxes as part of your work responsibilities and injure your back, you have sustained a work-related injury. In some cases, it may be difficult to determine if the injury is work-related – for instance, if you were injured at a company-sponsored social event while having some fun with coworkers playing sports, or engaging in some other activity.
Filing for workers’ compensation benefits
In Tennessee, workers’ compensation is based on exclusive remedy system. This requires you to file a work injury claim via workers’ compensation exclusively, preventing you from filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. You are also not required to prove the employer was responsible for your injury or contributed to it in any way.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit
Although the exclusive remedy rule prevents you from suing your employer for a workplace injury in Tennessee, you potentially have an option to sue a third party if that party is at fault. Through a personal injury lawsuit you can pursue monetary compensation not provided through workers’ compensation, such as pain and suffering. If you or the loved one of a worker was killed in his or her workplace due to the fault of the third-party, you may sue for loss of companionship.
Regarding a third-party personal injury claim, you will need to demonstrate the negligence of the third-party; specifically, that they acted wrongfully or carelessly in a way that caused your injury. As an example, if you were injured by a defective forklift, the manufacturer of that forklift may be liable and held accountable in a lawsuit.
If you have sustained an injury in a warehouse setting, our Chattanooga workers’ compensation lawyers at Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law are here to support you with the filing of your claim or the appeal of a denied claim. Our team offers legal representation to clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, North Georgia, and the surrounding areas. To request a free case review, give us a call today at 423.756.7923 or drop us a message through our contact form.