South Central Pennsylvania is one of the fastest growing areas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, especially in the development of warehouses and distribution centers. That is mainly attributable to Interstate 81, which spans 855 miles from Tennessee to New York. It is one of the Eastern Seabord’s most critical Interstates in the movement and transport of goods. In Pennsylvania, several counties that we serve are listed among the Top 15 in Pennsylvania for population growth from 2010 to 2014. Those counties are: Cumberland (1st), Lancaster (4th), Franklin (6th), and Dauphin (15th). A large factor in that growth has been the development of distribution centers up and down Interstate 81, from Hagerstown, Maryland to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. That has of course led to population growth and job growth, but has also led to common warehouse injuries.
Warehousing Growth in Central Pennsylvania
A large part of the growth that has occurred in Central Pennsylvania can be directly attributed to the warehousing and manufacturing development along the interstate 81 Corridor, from Greencastle, PA up through Dauphin County. We’ve seen the development of warehousing and distribution centers in Greencastle with Food Lion Distribution and World Kitchen. Chambersburg area has seen an explosion in growth generally, but also with warehouses, such as, Target Distribution, Ulta Distribution, K Mart Distribution, Staples Distribution, Ingram Book distribution, Martin’s Pasty Shoppe plan and distribution, Geodis, National Freight, Knouse Foods, Ventura Foods, and more. Just north on I-81 lies relatively new development in warehouses with Procter & Gamble, Georgia Pacific, Ryder, and new development of spec warehouses, which will be sublet to various companies needing distribution space. Further north on I-81 is Carlisle, that is home to Giant Foods Distribution, Ross Distribution, AMES distribution, Office Depot, Ryder, Amazon Fulfillment, OHL, Allen Distribution, Geodis, Transamerican AutoParts, Penske, Lindt Chocolate,a nd numerous spec warehouses. Those are just a few. These warehouse operations employ many people through South Central Pennsylvania. Additionally, there is more warehousing growth set for Carlisle (Exit 44 off I-81) and Shippensburg (Exit 24 and 29 off I-81).
These warehousing operations have also been a major factor in low unemployment rates in Central Pennsylvania. Here those are as of March 2016: Adams (4.0), Cumberland (4.0), Dauphin (4.7), Franklin (5.1), Lancaster (4.2), and York (4.7).
With warehousing/distribution types of development comes an increase in work-related injuries. More people working and population growth alone will lead to more work injuries. However, these types of employers many times cut corners on safety, stress quick paced work, apply pressure for workers to maintain fast-paced activity, ignore hazards which lead to unnecessary and often devastating work injuries, and quite frankly are just very busy places with trucks coming and going at a constant rate. Fast paced environments lead to accidents and mistakes.
Six Common Warehouse Injuries
There are six common warehouse work-related injuries that we see in warehousing type operations.
First, we see forklift accidents. These can be due to poor training, unsafe operation by users, crowded facilities, poorly maintained equipment, or just freak accidents. These injuries can occur from crushing and pinning other workers, fork lifts overturning, fork lifts running in other forklifts, shelving, or objects. They can result in pretty devastating accidents, even including fatal claims.
Second, we see overexertion injuries. These are usually lifting type injuries which can cause injuries to the cervical (neck) spine, lumbar (low back) spine, and shoulder areas. These injuries can also include hernias. Some of these occur form lack of training, workers trying to do to much and not following procedures, or because of the lack of necessary equipment. A frequent injury we see are rotator cuff and labrum tears in the shoulders. Again, these type injuries can be caused by poor training, failing to follow proper procedures, trying to maintain pace requirements, and lack of appropriate number of employees.
Third, we see repetitive stress injuries. These type of injuries occur because of highly repetitive activities at work, especially on selector type positions. They can also occur sue to high piece rates and failure to rotate employees through lines that involve highly repetitive activities. Familiar type repetitive trauma injuries I see often: carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, DeQuervain’s syndrome (wrist), Epicondylitis, thumb injuries, ganglion cysts, tenosynovitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, pain in the neck, and pain in the shoulders. These are all common type of injuries from repetitive stress.
Fourth, we see injured workers that are hit by falling objects. These type of injuries are usually due to unsafe conditions at work, carelessness, poor operations setup, and human error. These usually occur with issues of stacking that cause objects to fall and hit workers. We see neck injuries, which are usually cervical disc herniations, concussions, shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff tears, and back injuries, which many times can include lumbar disc herniations.
Fifth, we see slip and falls. These type of injuries go beyond slipping and falling in parking lots or between buildings on ice and snow, although we see many. These can include slip and falls within the distribution centers and frequently occur when residue, grease, card board, paper, or cords are lying in traveling areas and create falling hazards. As you can imagine, these injuries can vary from neck, back, and shoulder injuries to frequent knee type injuries, including meniscus tears, ligament tears, strains, hyperextensions, and more. Many times these type of injuries are easily preventable by proper procedures, cleanup, and removal of safety hazards.
Sixth, we see loading dock type of injuries. These often go hand in hand with overexertion because they occur on loading docks. Often times these may intermingle with forklift injuries, lifting type injuries, etc… we also see falls of the back of trucks or shoulder injuries from tight or non-functioning cables.
Final word on temporary labor
Many of warehouse/distribution type centers are fully functional with employees not actually being employed with the actual warehouse company. For instance, at the Procter & Gamble warehouse in Shippensburg, there are likely 800 to 1000 employees at that location, but only a handful, like 6 to 10, are actual Procter & Gamble employees. Instead, Procter & Gamble contracts out the logistics and warehouse jobs to temporary agencies that specialize in warehousing employment and operations. Many times, these large warehouses may have multiple temporary agencies providing employees at one time. Additionally, some of these positions are temp to hire, meaning employees may start their employment with a temporary agency for the first 90 days, then be hired on direct by the actual company. Often times, the temporary agencies have office locations right on site at the warehouses.
The first, and most important thing to remember is, even though you may be an employee of the temporary agency, you are still covered by workers compensation insurance. Second, it’s important for an injured worker to report a work-related injury to not just their immediate supervisor, but also to the temporary agency in which they are employed. Finally, it is important to remember that it does not matter how many days or weeks you’ve worked at that job, if you suffer a work-related injury, then you suffer a work-related injury, period.
Fact is, injuries at work are on the rise in South Central Pennsylvania because of population growth and the growth in warehousing and distribution center development. Workers’ compensation is a very complex area of law that relies on very specific deadlines and revolves around medical evidence. It is easy to say, I will handle this on my own. Do so at your own risk. I’ve seen too many people come to my office and want to file a claim or need assistance, but there handling of their injury on their own inflicted significant damage to their case. Even more so, why would you go it alone? ALWAYS REMEMBER the three things to do immediately when injured at work. 1) Report the injury right away. 2) Seek medical treatment right away. 3? Call Mooney & Associates for a FREE consultation. Your workers compensation rights and benefits and your future are too important to trust an insurance carrier. You can meet with me at any one of our fifteen convenient offices throughout Central Pennsylvania. Additionally, as a way to say THANK YOU to those that served in our military, Mooney & Associates offers a discounted Workers Compensation fee for veterans. We appreciate your commitment to this great nation.
Call today to schedule a FREE consultation for our work injury. Call us at 717-200-HURT or 1-877-632-4656.