The warehouse industry in Texas is booming. Around the world, Amazon alone directs 150 million square feet of warehouse space. Even as brick-and-mortar retail is experiencing serious problems, more and more people are buying goods online, requiring ever more warehouse space and warehouse employees. Some warehouse companies are dedicating significant energy to automating their workplaces, attempting to cut down on the number of human employees while also introducing potentially hazardous robotic implements. Indeed, there is some time to come before automation will displace many workers, but their jobs are likely to become more stressful and fast-paced as a result.
Warehouse workers face increasing risks on the job as well. Between 2015 and 2017, fatalities linked to workplace injuries doubled from 11 to 22. Out of every 100 full-time warehouse workers, 5.1 are injured on the job. This is a similar injury rate to that experienced by farmworkers. New machines are being introduced into warehouses without established safety protocols. In addition, many warehouses are minimally staffed while workers are pressured to process and ship goods as quickly as possible. Managers are often tasked both with overseeing safety and productivity, a situation that can cause safety to fall by the wayside.
OSHA workplace safety standards note that cluttered boxes scattered through warehouse aisles and in front of exits are a threat to safety. Exits must be unobstructed in order to allow workers to leave in case of an emergency. In addition, workers are at risk of injury due to constant standing, twisting, reaching and carrying items, many of which are heavy.
When warehouse workers are hurt on the job, they may be forced to stay home from work and lose wages while paying costly medical bills. A workers’ compensation attorney might be able to help employees injured in a workplace accident to access the benefits they need.