Warehouse tasks can be divided into three broad categories: placing and picking; packing; and receiving and shipping.

Placing and picking tasks – Placing and picking tasks often include the placement and retrieval of items from shelving or bins within the warehouse or storage system. These tasks can be performed in a number of ways and require varying amounts of equipment. Some examples include:

  • Placing or picking large or heavy items using a forklift or other lift mechanism from a floor location.
  • Using an order picker to place or pick items from various heights.
  • Using a cart to manually place or pick items from the ground level.

Risk factors that might present themselves during the picking and placing relate to the way products are handled. These can include the weight of items, the body postures and frequency while handling these items.
Some things that can be done to reduce the risk factors related to injuries from placing and picking for manual or mechanized tasks include:

  • Ensure that the individual is aligned with the item's storage location in a way that does not require twisting of the back.
  • When possible, position the individual so that the activity (lifting, pulling, pushing, placing, etc.) occurs between knee and shoulder height. Heavy or awkward items should be positioned between knuckle and elbow height.
  • Use proper lifting techniques.
  • Utilize mechanical assistance (hoists, pulleys, lifts, etc.) when handling heavy or awkward items.
  • Ensure that the wheels on carts are well-maintained and in proper working order. Poorly maintained carts increase the force needed to maneuver them.
  • Do not overload carts. Ensure that the weight on carts is within the design specifications of the cart. Additionally, ensure that items on the cart are not above the individual's field of vision. Items that are stacked at high levels can restrict the field of vision and limit the maneuverability of the cart and the individual, thus increasing the risk of bumping into items or rolling over items that might be near the floor and also could cause awkward body postures.
  • Ensure that safety checks are performed regularly for all mechanical equipment and that the equipment is in proper, safe working order.

Packing tasks – Packing tasks often include the preparation of items for shipment once they are retrieved. These tasks can be performed in a number of ways, depending on the shipping method necessary and the size of the item being packed. Some examples include:

  • Securing large or heavy items in shipping crates or on pallets. This might require the use of shrink-wrapping equipment or other methods to secure the shipment.
  • Packing items in boxes and including appropriate packing materials to secure the item during shipment.
  • Completing necessary paperwork for shipment.

Risk factors that might be present during packing tasks relate to the way products are received, packed and shipped. These can include the weight of items, the body postures when handling them and the frequency of handling items.

  • Some things that can be done to reduce the risk factors related to injuries from placing and picking items include:
  • Position the orientation of the product and the worker in a way that does not require twisting or extended reaches by the worker.
  • Work as close to the neutral posture as possible. Neutral posture includes a straight neck, straight back with the curves naturally supported, shoulders straight down, elbows at a right angle and wrists straight.
  • Minimize forces that are applied. These forces can include pinching, gripping, pushing and pulling while performing tasks like taping, filling packages with fill material, retrieving packing slips and other needed paperwork and other tasks.
  • Use proper lifting techniques.
  • When possible, minimize the need to carry items by using carts, conveyors and roller tables.

Receiving and shipping tasks – Receiving and shipping tasks often include pallet breakdown or pallet construction. These tasks may be performed manually and include the breakdown of pallets containing similar items or pallets of mixed items. Some examples include:

  • Securing large or heavy items in shipping crates or on     pallets. This may require the use of shrink-wrapping equipment or other types of materials to secure the shipment.
  • Packing items in boxes and including appropriate packing materials to secure the item during shipment.
  • Completing necessary paperwork for shipment.

Risk factors that can be present during packing tasks relate to the way products are received, packed and shipped. These can include the weight of items, the body postures of the workers and frequency of handling these items.

Some things that can be done to reduce the risk factors related to injuries from receiving and shipping tasks include:

  • Use proper lifting techniques.
  • Use mechanical assist when possible.
  • Place the load between knees and shoulders when possible.  Heavy weights should be placed between knuckle and elbow height.