Top 10 EHS Needs in Logistics and Trucking

June 28 is the 3rd annual National Logistics Day, a day to recognize the services and professionals within the logistics transportation field. In the past year, the logistics and trucking industry has been more essential than ever, delivering medicine, groceries and other goods where they were needed.

E-commerce has also continued to rise in popularity. According to Digital Commerce 360, e-commerce sales increased 44% in 2020, to account for 21.3% of total retail sales for the year. As more business continues to be conducted online, the need for logistics and trucking will continue to increase, as well. That means EHS programs in this industry will also be in-demand.

In honor of this well-deserved holiday, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most important environmental health, risk, safety and emergency considerations in logistics services. Whether you’re a logistics coordinator, EHS professional or logistics manager, prioritize these to protect workers and support logistics growth.

Need a refresher to improve logistics and trucking safety? Book an on-demand EHS professional with YellowBird.

1. Forklift Training

Forklifts are an integral part of logistics, but they’re also one of the most potentially dangerous components. With the ability to transport up to 50,000 pounds, these machines can cause serious injuries and fatalities.

According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, in 2018, there were around 8,000 forklift-related injuries, a 6% year-over-year increase. It’s important to provide thorough training to any forklift operator and ensure all forklifts are in safe working condition.

2. Fall Prevention & Protection

Fall Protection – General Requirements landed in the top spot for OSHA Top 10 Most Cited Safety Violations 2020. There were more than 5,400 violations related to this construction standard for that fiscal year. The prevalence of fall safety issues applies to logistics and trucking, as well.

When employees are on machinery like aerial lifts in warehouses, for example, fall hazards are present. Ladders also pose a threat.

Businesses should put fall prevention and protection in place including proper tie-off equipment, safety harnesses and fall arrest lanyards.

3. Equipment Guarding

Equipment guarding protects workers in various ways, including preventing worker injuries from falling objects and machinery collisions. Safety guarding for equipment includes:

  • Netting
  • Guardrails
  • Rack guards
  • Mezzanine safety guards
  • Wire mesh partitions

You may want to work with an EHS pro to ensure you have the optimal amount of equipment guarding in your warehouse. Equipment guarding should also be properly displayed, such as being painted bright yellow to distinguish it from other equipment.

4. Vehicle & Driver Safety

According to the BLS 2020 report on National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019, transportation incidents continued to be the top cause of workplace fatalities. In 2019, transportation incidents increased 2% and accounted for the most cases since this series tracking began in 2011.

Proper inspection of vehicles for driver safety is paramount. Brake systems, lamps, warning signals, air pressure, fuel systems, wheels and other truck components need to be in proper working order before any trip.

It’s also important to train employees on safe driving practices and to enforce guidelines for rest while traveling. Trucking professionals must also be safe drivers and pass Commercial Driver’s License Program requirements before getting on the road.

5. Aerial Lift Safety

Aerial lifts pose many life-threatening hazards, including falls, tip-overs, falling objects and structural failures. Only trained and authorized employees should operate aerial lifts. Proper aerial lift safety training includes:

  • Hazard explanation
  • How to deal with hazards
  • How to recognize and avoid safety issues
  • How to correctly operate aerial lifts
  • How to perform inspections and follow manufacturer requirements

Both the aerial lift equipment must be safe to operate, and the operator must have the proper training and authorization. An EHS pro can provide training for your team and identify risks.

6. Materials Handling Training

According to “Logistics Management,” 8.5 million American workers are at very high risk of lumbar injury, while 22 million American workers are at high risk of lower lumbar injury. Novice workers tend to have significantly higher rates of workplace injury. In peak package-moving times like the holiday season, where workers are doing more heavy lifting, back injuries are even more of a threat.

Proper materials handling training helps workers protect their bodies. Employees should have proper safety equipment available to protect their backs when lifting objects. They should also be aware of what is and what isn’t safe to lift on their own.

This type of training is especially important for new workers, including seasonal hires who may be new to the job.

7. Loading & Unloading Safety

In relation to safe materials handling is loading and unloading safety. Trucking and logistics professionals may be loading or unloading flammable/combustible liquids, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports is one of the most hazardous operations that occurs at storage and manufacturing facilities.

There are also hazards with unloading or loading suspension-type highway trailers. Any employee who is loading or unloading hazardous materials should be properly trained in how to do so, as well as be authorized to use the equipment (like a forklift) that’s necessary to perform the task.

8. Transporting Hazardous Materials

Truck drivers who are transporting hazardous materials must also be trained on the proper safety precautions. These types of materials include oil, radioactive materials and hazardous chemicals.

Hazardous materials training includes how to handle those materials, proper transportation precautions to take and how to deal with hazardous materials spills. Employers must provide proper respiratory protection and personal protective equipment (PPE) when dealing with hazardous materials, as well.

9. Repetitive Movement Strain

Manual shipping and packaging processes increase risk for repetitive movement strain. Logistics employees are at risk for repetitive motion injuries when they participate in tasks like:

  • Lifting and carrying heavy materials
  • Repeating the same motions frequently
  • Using hand tools

Proper rest and training helps workers avoid injuries like musculoskeletal disorders, knee injuries and back injuries from repetitive motions.

Your business may also benefit from a safety audit that can help you make ergonomic design improvements and identify operations you can automate to relieve the burden from workers. Some simple organizational adjustments, such as moving frequently used items to easy-to-reach shelves, can also significantly impact worker protection.

10. Environmental Noise

Loud noise can damage membranes and cells in the inner ear. Those cells can die, which leads to hearing loss with continued exposure. Noisy warehouses and other logistics environments can pose a serious threat to workers.

Logistics and trucking businesses should conduct a noise assessment to determine environmental noise threats, then provide workers with proper occupational noise exposure education and safety measures like hearing protection devices to protect their hearing. Businesses with noisy environments should implement safe communication methods, as well, so hazard communication is available even in loud settings.

Ensure Your Logistics & Trucking Operations Are Safe

The success of your business depends on worker safety. It’s vital to create a healthy safety culture and provide frequent trainings to promote a safe environment.

An EHS consultant can help you identify ways to improve the safety of your logistics and trucking operations. Learn about on-demand EHS consulting and training services from YellowBird.