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Safety Success Stories: Reducing Risks by Redesigning Tasks in Warehousing

Jun 17, 2024
Workers wearing safety vests and helmets inside a large warehouse with tall shelves stocked with various items.

Risk analysis provides the opportunity to determine the likelihood and severity of potential hazards. It can also help organizations prioritize risk management and implement suitable controls.

Deb Roy, M.P.H, RN, COHN-S, CSP, FASSP, FAAOHN, president/owner of SafeTech Consultants Inc., performed a risk analysis for an outdoor retailer to find safer solutions for workers operating at height.

The Problem

A global outdoor retailer with more than 10,000 employees had warehouse technicians using 12-foot step ladders to access overhead conveyors three to five times per shift. Technicians used the ladders to conduct preventative maintenance, remove jammed boxes or bags or perform minor mechanical adjustments. These tasks took from 10 minutes to 25 minutes to accomplish each time. 

The frequency with which workers used the ladders increased the probability of fall incidents, which could result in serious injuries such as concussions, fractured clavicles and/or arms and even fatalities.  

The Solution

The company determined that the current level of risk was unacceptable, and they needed a higher degree of protection. They designed and installed a catwalk platform and handrail system with stairs to access overhead conveyors. Then, they trained the team on how to operate safely.

The Outcome

The installation of engineering controls lowered the probability of worker falls by preventing the frequent risk of ladder use. It also allowed machinery to operate for longer periods of time since jams were easier and quicker to access and solve. These improvements reduced the risk profile for these tasks, as well as operating costs.


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