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Learning objectives:
Properly using a Forklift Vehicle
Using a loading dock correctly
Handling hazardous materials
Proper to Improper storage
Manual lifting
Preventing slip, trips, and falls

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Optional CFS Warehouse Safety Instructors Guide

Forklift-Related Hazards in Warehouses

Forklifts are critical in a warehouse to efficiently move products around. These machines can reduce the need for manual handling by workers; however, they present server hazards if improperly used. The National Safety Council reported that in 2019 there were 79 work-related deaths and 8,140 injuries across all industries involving forklifts (

Below are the Best Practices for Forklifts

  • Forklifts should only be operated by a competent person who has completed certified training.

  • Always inspect the forklift daily for any damage.

  • Never operate faulty equipment.

  • Never overload the machine or operate it outside of what it was designed to do.

  • Never use a forklift as a man lift or ride.

  • Always use seatbelts when operating a forklift.

  • Never enter and exit the forklift with the forks raised.

  • Mark forklift travel paths and keep personnel from walking in these areas to prevent struck-by incidents.


Loading Dock Safety

Products are typically loaded into and out of the warehouse through loading docks. Loading docks are elevated to allow the delivery trucks access directly into the warehouse; however, these areas can present hazards for workers, including struck-by incidents and falls.

Below are the Best Practices for Loading Docks

  • Use dock plates when loading and unloading trailers to ensure there is no gap between the truck and dock where an employee could fall.

  • Use vehicle restraints to ensure the trailer does not move away from the dock edge while personnel are in or around the trailer.

  • Be cognizant when working on the loading dock to avoid falls from the elevated landing.

  • Do not climb up and down docks. Always use the proper entrance into and out of the warehouse.

  • Direct all foot traffic away from the dock door and path of any moving equipment.

  • Never put yourself between the dock and a moving truck or forklift.

  • When operating a forklift on a loading dock, it is important to be attentive and drive slowly to avoid running off the dock.

Hazardous Materials

There are significant hazards that employees can come into contact with. Improper storage, handling, and disposal of chemicals can result in serious injuries and property loss (

Stories of warehouses going up in flames due to chemical accidents such as spills or improper stacking, are more common than you think. 

Below are the Best Practices for Hazardous Material

  • The use of hazardous materials should be limited as much as possible.

  • Always properly label any chemicals in the workplace.

  • Always use the appropriate personal protective equipment when working around hazardous materials or chemicals.

  • Be aware of the nearest fire extinguisher, eye-wash station, and exit.

  • Wear the proper PPE when required.


Material Storage

Improper storage, stacking of materials, or overloading of storage equipment can lead to materials falling onto employees. These incidents can result in severe injuries and significant property loss.

Below are the Best Practices for Material Storage

  • Source and use storage systems that are rated for the weight and the environment they will be located in.

  • Ensure rack systems and shelving are braced, sturdy, and spacious enough to allow people and equipment to navigate freely.

  • Inspect racking systems and stacked materials frequently to ensure there are no unaddressed hazards.

  • Always store products straight and evenly.

  • Never keep heavy products on high shelves.

  • Place materials that are turned over frequently close to the ground or in another easily accessible area.

Manual Lifting

Despite the wide use of conveyors and forklifts in warehouses, manual lifting by hand does need to occur. These work activities can easily result in physical injuries to those workers who have to lift and move objects as part of their job (

Manual Lifting Best Practices

  • Use a forklift whenever possible to move heavy or awkward objects.

  • Eliminate the need for manual handling by staging work areas more efficiently.

  • Always plan ahead of the lift and follow proper lifting techniques when carrying heavy loads. Ensure your walking path is clear and that the space is clear for where you will set the object down.


Slips, Trips, and Falls


Slips, trips, and falls are extremely common in the workplace. Warehouse settings are no different. Walking or running across the warehouse floor can be hazardous if the warehouse has liquid on the floor, causing the chances of slips, trips, and falls.

Below are the Slip, Trip and Fall Preventions

  • Maintain non-slippery floors free from dirt and debris.

  • Ensure that work areas are clean and organized.

  • Ensure the warehouse has adequate lighting.

  • Never carry products with blocked vision.

  • Pay attention to where you are walking.

  • Mark walking paths with lighting or floor tape to prevent individuals from walking into a hazardous area.

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