Warehouse Safety

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Warehouse Legal Liability Coverage

Warehouse owners are exposed to the risk of fire, flood, theft and damage of third-party owned materials stored in their facilities. Under the United States Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), a warehouse owner assumes responsibility for the materials they store for others for a fee. If your facility experiences a loss, the third party must prove that you failed to exercise due care over their possessions. Regardless of the size of your warehouse, either one room or a large-scale facility, you must protect yourself against potential liability with the proper insurance coverage.

Warehouse Legal Liability Insurance provides protection in the event that negligence on your part results in damage to someone else's property. According to Uniform Commercial Code Section 7-204(2), "Damages may be limited by a term in the warehouse receipt or storage agreement limiting the amount of liability in case of loss or damage, and setting forth a specific liability per article or item, or value per unit of weight, beyond which the warehouse owner shall not be liable." This means that your contract must detail the value of what is placed in your storage facility to determine damages in the event of a loss.

Coverage Options:

  • Warehouse Legal Liability policies cover your legal liability as the warehouse owner with regard to a failure to exercise due care to prevent a loss. For example, you would be held liable if you forgot to set your facility's alarm and thieves stole materials stored by a third party.
  • Bailees' Customers policies cover stored property with regard to loss or damage without taking your legal liability into account. This protection is more encompassing but comes at a higher price tag.

Coverage Exclusions:

  • A typical policy excludes the following:
  • Accounts, bills and currency
  • Mysterious disappearance
  • Conversion
  • Delay, loss of market or loss of use
  • Loss caused by forged warehouse receipts
  • Nuclear device
  • War
  • Governmental authority
  • Change in temperature or increased humidity
  • Infestation or deterioration of the property
  • Contaminated goods
  • Debris removal
  • Legal defense costs
  • Materials not covered by a warehouse receipt
  • In addition to purchasing a Warehouse Legal Liability policy, it is wise to establish safeguards in your facility to protect against losses. This may include researching the crime rate in your area and inspecting neighboring businesses for hazards that may affect your facility; storing goods on solid shelving; storing electronic equipment in a climate-controlled area; and screening employees thoroughly to avoid hiring a potential thief. Protecting against liability can be tricky; let us guide you through the process. Contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. today!

    This Coverage Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. Photography © Outdoor Office V154 Getty Images, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Content © 2009-2010 Zywave, Inc.

    The Basics of Property Insurance

    The survival of your business is your livelihood, so it should be protected against the unthinkable setback - however big or small. For instance, a fire could destroy your business's warehouse and the contents inside, or a burst frozen pipe could damage important documents and valuable papers. Or, you could have trouble paying your employees during a loss because your funds are devoted to repairing damage.

    If self-insuring is not an option to combat these risks of loss, it is wise to obtain Property Insurance. This coverage comes in many forms to suit your specific needs. Before purchasing coverage, take a complete inventory of all your business property to determine how much you need to insure. This important step assures you will have adequate coverage to continue your business in the event of a covered loss.

    Types of Property you may Need to Insure

    • Buildings and other structures (leased or owned)
    • Furniture, equipment and supplies
    • Inventory
    • Money and securities
    • Records of accounts receivable
    • Leasehold Improvements and betterments you made to the rented premise
    • Machinery/Boiler
    • Electronic data processing equipment (computers, etc.)
    • Valued documents, books and papers
    • Mobile property (construction equipment, etc.)
    • Property in transit
    • Cargo
    • Satellite dishes
    • Signs, fences and other outdoor property not directly attached to the building
    • Intangible property (goodwill, trademarks, etc.)
    • Business contingency for suppliers
    • Ordinary payroll
    • Extra expenses as a result of loss
    • Types of Property Insurance Policies

      Basic Property Insurance covers losses due to fire or lightning, including the cost to remove property as a way to protect it from further damage. Should you want to purchase more than basic coverage, you can buy a standard policy that provides coverage for extended perils, such as floods, windstorms, hail, earthquakes, acts of terrorism, explosion, riots, smoke, civil commotions, aircraft and vehicles that damage your property. Beyond that, coverage for vandalism and malicious mischief can also be included.

      Are You Buying Enough?

      One of the most important aspects of purchasing Property Insurance is making sure that you have bought enough coverage and are adequately protected. A typical policy will provide the replacement cost value for your building and the actual cash value for your business property. Replacement cost value is the amount that is necessary to replace or rebuild your building or repair damages with similar materials, without considering depreciation. Actual cost value, on the other hand, is the value of your property when it is damaged or destroyed. This amount is typically determined by subtracting the depreciation from the replacement cost value.

      Most property insurance policies include a coinsurance clause, which requires you, the policyholder, to share the cost of covered services up to a moderate percentage of the actual cash value of the property. This will allow you to receive full coverage for your losses. Should you fail to insure your property to the required amount of property insurance, we will not be able to pay you 100 percent of the covered loss.

      We understand that determining your business's value is critical, so we're here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our Property Insurance and loss control solutions to protect your business.

      This Coverage Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

      Lifting and Stretching: Avoiding Strains


      What is 'ergonomics' and how does it impact us? Ergonomics is the study of the relationship between people, their work and their workplace. The primary goal of ergonomics is to help the body move in natural ways and reduce stressors that might cause damage.

      Common Musculoskeletal Disorders

      Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are injuries and disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs. The symptoms of MSDs can include a dull aching sensation, discomfort with specific movements, tenderness to the touch, a burning sensation, pain, tingling, cramping or stiffness. Symptoms often appear gradually and may disappear during rest. The most common problems occur in a person's neck, low back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands.

      Primary Risk Factors

      When we are aware of motions or movements that might cause problems, we can take steps to avoid doing something that might develop into a MSD. The four primary risk factors for MSDs include:

      • Awkward postures
      • Using excessive force
      • Repetitive motions
      • Contact stress

      Obviously, all these risk factors are amplified by how we lift and how we move our bodies. If we have a good understanding of how to avoid these risk factors, we can help avoid falling victim to MSDs.

      Maintaining Flexibility

      One of the contributing factors to strains is our bodies is moving in ways they are not ready to move or using muscle groups that haven't been 'warmed up' for work. There is real value in practicing some basic stretching exercises to prepare our bodies for work.

      Simple stretching exercises for our hands and wrists, back, and neck can help to avoid problems during the day . Hands and wrists should be stretched so they are ready to move in typical ways required at work. Your neck can be stretched gently from side to side and then from front to back. Your back can be stretched while sitting in a chair and bending so your chin gets close to your knees.

      Lifting Techniques

      How we lift and use our back will determine if we experience pain and troubles that we can avoid. Improper lifting will result in strains and pain. By following these lifting tips, you can avoid being hurt and having pain. No one can force you to lift the right way; you have to decide to do the right thing every time you lift.

      First, when lifting, size up what is going to be lifted and if it is too awkward, too big or too heavy, get some help. Too many times, people have lifted items that were too big and the results were painful.

      Second, always lift with your legs and never with your back . Most of us still lift freestyle (lifting with our backs instead of our legs) because it is easier. Our leg muscles are designed to lift loads; our backs are not set up that way. When lifting, don't bend at your waist; bend with your knees. Lifting with your waist will cause low back injuries.

      Third, when lifting, avoid lifting and twisting all in the same motion . Your first goal is to get what you are lifting up and then, once your legs are straight, you can move your legs instead of twisting your waist and lower back.

      Rules of Good Lifting

      If you follow these rules for lifting, you will reduce the possibility of injury:

      • Size up the load before lifting-test by moving a corner or pushing the load.
      • Bend the knees when lifting-let your legs do the work.
      • Place feet close to the object and center yourself over the load.
      • Lift straight up in a smooth motion.
      • Do not twist or turn your body once the lift is made.
      • Make sure there is a clear path-don't fall over something you can't see.
      • Set the load down properly.
      • Always push a load that is on a cart-never pull it.
      • If it is a long object, get some help.
      • Split the load into smaller loads if possible.
      Twisting, Reaching, Sideways Bending, Unequal Lifting

      How we lift is very important, but there are other factors that cause strains and they involve twisting and reaching. Any amount of twisting, reaching or bending while lifting causes more stress on the back. Here are some points to consider:

      • Reaching upward: This usually causes the back to arch and increases the forces on the lower spine. It also puts stress on the upper back, shoulders and arms.
      • Forward reaches: Reaching beyond the length of your arm puts a lot of stress on your lower back.
      • Bending and twisting concerns: Bending sideways or twisting your trunk puts stress on your lower back and increases the possibility of a lower back strain.

      The possibility of causing a muscle strain increases when you don't move properly and you do a lot of reaching, twisting, sideways bending and unequal lifting or carrying .

      Some Final Thoughts...

      Lifting and over-reaching are some of the main causes of musculoskeletal disorders. Pausing for a moment to make sure that you are lifting properly and not over reaching will help to prevent strains. The safety and health services available through the company can help you with any ergonomic questions or concerns that you may have.

      Warehousing Safety Checklist

      The fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all other industries. Workers are in danger of being injured because of using forklifts unsafely, stacking products improperly, failing to using personal protective equipment (PPE), failing to follow lockout/tagout procedures, failing to comply with fire safety provisions and performing repetitive motions frequently.

      HAZARD: Docks

      Injuries occur on docks when forklifts run off the dock, products fall on employees or equipment strikes employees.


      • Drive forklifts slowly on docks and plates.
      • Secure dock plates and check to see if the plate can safely support the load.
      • Stay clear of dock edges and never back up a forklift to the dock's edge.
      • Provide visual warnings for employees near dock edges.
      • Do not allow employees to "dock jump."
      • Ensure that ladders and stairs meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
      HAZARD: Forklifts

      Approximately 100 workers are killed and 95,000 are injured annually while operating forklifts across all injuries. Forklift turnovers account for a significant percentage of these fatalities.


      • Train, evaluate and certify all operators to ensure that they can operate forklifts safely.
      • Do not allow anyone under age 18 to operate a forklift.
      • Properly maintain haulage equipment, including tires.
      • Before using a forklift, examine it for hazardous conditions which would make it unsafe to operate.
      • Follow safe procedures for picking up, putting down and stacking loads.
      • Drive safely, never exceeding five miles per hour (mph) and slow down in congested areas or those with slippery surfaces.
      • Ensure that the operator wears a seatbelt installed by the manufacturer.
      • Never drive up to a person standing in front of a fixed object such as a wall or stacked materials.
      • Prohibit stunt driving and horseplay.
      • Do not handle loads heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift.
      • Remove unsafe or defective trucks from service until the defect is properly repaired.
      • Maintain sufficiently safe clearances for aisles and at loading docks or passages where forklifts are used.
      • Ensure adequate ventilation either by opened doors/windows or using ventilation systems to provide enough fresh air to keep concentrations of noxious gases from engine exhaust below acceptable limits.
      • Provide covers and/or guardrails to protect workers from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats and ditches.
      • Train employees on the hazards associated with the combustion byproducts of forklift operation, such as carbon monoxide.
      HAZARD: Conveyors

      Workers can be injured when they are caught in pinch points or in the in-going nip points, are hit by falling products or develop musculoskeletal disorders associated with awkward postures or repetitive motions.


      • Inspect conveyors regularly.
      • Ensure that pinch points are adequately guarded.
      • Develop ways of locking out conveyors and train employees in these procedures.
      • Provide proper lighting and working surfaces in the area surrounding the conveyor.
      HAZARD: Materials Storage

      Improperly stored materials may fall and injure workers.


      • Stack loads evenly and straight.
      • Place heavier loads on lower or middle shelves.
      • Remove one object at a time from shelving.
      • Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair.
      HAZARD: Manual Lifting/Handling

      Back injuries occur from improper lifting and overexertion.

      • Solutions:
      • Provide general ergonomics training and task-specific training.
      • Minimize the need for lifting by using good design and engineering techniques.
      • Lift properly and get a coworker to help if a product is too heavy.
      HAZARD: Hazard Communication

      Chemical burns are possible if spills of hazardous materials occur.


      • Maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each chemical used at your facility.
      • Follow MSDS instructions for handling products.
      • Train employees on the risks of each chemical being stored.
      • Provide spill cleanup kits in any areas where chemicals are stored.
      • Create a written spill cleanup plan.
      • Train employees to clean up spills, protect themselves and properly dispose of used materials.
      • Provide proper PPE and enforce its use.
      • Store all chemicals safely and securely.
      • Store chemicals away from forklift traffic areas.
      HAZARD: Charging Stations

      Fires and explosion risks are possible unless proper guidelines are followed.


      • Prohibit smoking and open flames in and around charging stations.
      • Provide adequate ventilation to disperse fumes from gassing batteries.
      • Ensure that fire extinguishers are available and fully charged.
      • Provide proper PPE (rubber gloves, eye protection, face protection, etc.).
      • Properly position forklifts and apply the brakes before attempting to change or charge batteries; follow required procedures when refueling gas or propane fueled forklifts.
      • Provide conveyors, overhead hoists or equivalent materials handling equipment for servicing batteries.
      • Provide an eye-washing station and safety shower facilities for employees exposed to battery acids.
      HAZARD: Poor Ergonomics

      Improper lifting, repetitive motions or poor design of operations can lead to musculoskeletal disorders in workers.


      • Use powered equipment instead of requiring a manual lift of heavy materials, if possible.
      • Reduce lifts from shoulder height and from floor height by repositioning the shelf or bin.
      • Ensure overhead lighting is adequate for the task at hand.
      • Provide employees with task-oriented ergonomic training.
      • Use your legs and keep your back in a natural position while lifting.
      • Test the load to estimate its weight, size, bulk and to determine the proper lifting method.
      • Ask for assistance with loads exceeding the maximum weight a person should lift safely without help.
      • Do not twist while carrying a load; shift your feet and take small steps in the direction that you want to turn.
      • Keep floors clean and free of slip and trip hazards.

      Source: OSHA

      Material Handling

      Moving bulky items on the job? Then, you need to keep safety in mind. Consider these material handling recommendations to avoid injuries as you work.

      The first thing to remember…the best way to handle boxes or cartons is to grasp the far side top and bottom corners and then draw a corner between your legs. Long pieces of pipe, bar stock or lumber should be carried over a padded shoulder with the front-end held high to avoid hitting other employees. Also, exercise special caution when rounding corners.

      It is also very important to use the right tool for the job. With that said, do not attempt to use your fingers as a pry, a wrench for a hammer or a screwdriver for a chisel.

      Beyond these recommendations, here are some other precautions you should consider to protect yourself while handling materials on the job:

      • Wear work gloves to protect your hands during tasks. Gloves can prevent cuts and scratches, and many types also provide a better grip. Also, most work gloves are ventilated for your comfort, so there is no good excuse not to wear them when the occasion calls for it.
      • Conserve space in your work area, but do not pile items too close to a wall or column. Instead, provide proper clearance at the top and on all sides of piles is necessary for safety. When materials are piled, they should be in stacks that will stand steady. Sometimes this means the materials must be criss-crossed or interwoven with corrugated boards. If objects roll while stacked, they should be chocked to prevent serious injuries.
      • Do not be afraid of putting the cleaning crew out of a job by picking up things that you drop on the floor. Tripping and slipping hazards could put both you, and the cleaners, out of work for a long time.
      • Before lifting, make sure there are no obstructions or slippery spots on the route you intend to travel. Then, use your legs, not your back, to lifting loads properly. Shift your feet rather than twist your body when turning.
      • Avoid taking shortcuts on the job to save time. Skinned knuckles or pinched fingers are instant reminders that something was done incorrectly if you do not take the time to do it right.

      Learn from Near Accidents

      When you're driving the speed limit down the highway and another car pulls out in front of you, it's necessary to hit the brakes or execute a quick maneuver to avoid an accident.

      Chances are that you'll be pretty hot under the collar over the other driver's action, and you'll run your hand over your forehead to remove the perspiration.

      But if you're smart, you won't let anger overpower your safe driving habits, and you'll make a mental note that you should be more alert and watch for cars approaching the highway from side roads. This action could save your life next time.

      Close calls or near accidents on the job should also be converted into safety precautions. A near accident is an indication that something is wrong. It's a warning that a machine isn't operating correctly, materials aren't stacked properly, or someone has done something unsafe.

      For example, when you're driving and you notice a red light glowing on the dashboard, you know that it's a warning that your engine is overheating and you shouldn't ignore it. Or when you get a headache you know your body is warning you that there is trouble in the body, and you shouldn't ignore that warning either. Below are some typical accidents that could have been avoided if their warning call had not been ignored.

      • A shop employee stumbles over a two-by-four and fractures an ankle.
      • A janitor trips over a loose floor tile and falls against a metal guard rail.
      • A metal file cabinet lands on a secretary after she slips on some trash and grabs it in an attempt to break her fall.
      • A machine operator is injured when a hi-lo struck the machine being operated.

      The proper handling of near accidents could have prevented the real thing from happening in the cases mentioned above. The two-by-four in the aisle and loose tile or trash on the floor probably caused other employees to step aside to avoid tripping or even caused them to stumble. And how many near misses did the hi-lo operator have with the machine? Chances are there were several. However, in all of these cases, no one paid any attention to the warnings. Nothing was done to correct the situations and accidents resulted.

      It's not hard to recall accidents that you've had. You may still have the pains or scars to remind you. If you are burned at an early age, you don't need a slap on the wrist to remind you to be cautious from that point on. But as we've noted, a near-accident is often forgotten without any benefits resulting from the experience.

      How can you turn a close call into a contribution to safety? Below are two ways that you may already be using.

      • Think safety and become concerned over near-accidents.
      • Correct the situation and remove the hazard that caused the near-accident. If you can't handle it routinely, then report it to your supervisor.

      Safety awareness is always important. It's a case of preparing yourself mentally to act in a safe manner and to recognize a close call as a warning. So when a stack of books tips over or the handle on a tool snaps, see the warning and do something about it!