Working in a warehouse environment will always involve risks. Forklift trucks and other heavy machinery being operated, manual handling, storage of heavy items on high racking and the potential for slips, trips and falls are just some of the dangers workers will be faced with every day.
Inevitably, in busy working environments which involve a lot of activity and equipment, accidents will happen. Some incidents, if handled improperly, can cause irreparable damage to your reputation, creating additional strain on your staff and your business.
But while some accidents are bound to happen, there are key things which you can consider in order to reduce the risk of injury to your employees. By stepping up your approach to health and safety, you’ll demonstrate to both your staff and your customers that your employees' wellbeing is a top priority for your business.
Vehicles should be well maintained, and regularly checked to ensure that no faults occur. Loading bays and loading docks are areas which require detailed risk assessments, safe systems of work and clear procedures to be put in place in order to manage the risks associated with the unauthorised release of trucks and unsafe loading practices.
When loading is taking place, care should be taken to avoid overloading vehicles, as excess weight can cause further mechanical issues. Care should also be taken to ensure that loads are fastened securely before further action is taken.
Drivers and banksmen, where reversing is required, should receive the appropriate training and retraining as necessary. Helping your staff to operate best practices is a crucial way of maintaining a good level of health and safety in your working environment. Additional care should be taken where reversing is taking place in order to avoid damage to the vehicle, load or staff overseeing and operating the action.
Drivers should follow suitable routes for the vehicle and its load, and parking should be confirmed in order to ensure that the area designated is appropriate for the vehicle type. Areas, where the ground is bumpy or unstable, are inappropriate for loaded vehicles to park on and could risk staff safety.
Storing products and equipment should happen in well-marked, dedicated storage areas in order to prevent damage to the products or dangers to staff carrying out their work.
The layout of storage areas should avoid tight corners or pillars, where transport becomes more difficult. Storage and pallets areas should avoid uneven surfaces, where the stored items are less likely to be stable and therefore injury is more likely to take place.
Pallets should be loaded in an established pattern in order to achieve maximum stability and safety. Loads should be distributed evenly each time a pallet is used, and damaged pallets should be withdrawn from use until suitable repairs have taken place.
Both general and specialised equipment (lifting equipment and forklift trucks) should be suitable and safe for the intended use. Regular maintenance checks should be carried out, and unsuitable equipment should not be used.
Only employees who have received adequate training are deemed safe to use certain equipment, and suitable devices such as protective garments, guarding, controls and marking should be used throughout.
All lifting equipment used should be fit for purpose, maintained and tested for the particular use, and safe working loads should be clearly marked. In order to minimise risks, work involving lifting equipment should be carefully planned and carried out by competent people.
A frequent work-related injury in warehouses is back strain from improper lifting. While employees are still in training, review the proper ways to lift heavy objects. Ensure measures are taken to reduce the distance objects have to be carried, structuring work stations in order to avoid excessive twisting, and taking the time to break large loads up into manageable amounts. Improvements to the environment such as good lighting, flooring and comfortable air temperature can also help reduce risks to employees health when it comes to manual handling.
For all work taking place at heights, a risk assessment should be carried out which considers the dangers of objects and staff falling. All work should be planned, including a process for rescuing people if necessary, and carried out by staff who are trained to work at heights.
Equipment should be inspected regularly. Mobile elevating working platforms should be thoroughly examined every six months in order to ensure it is safe for use.
All companies should ensure that everything in their Health and Safety management system, including health and safety checks, monitoring, maintenance, records and staff training is up to date. A, alongside this, all monitoring activities should have an audit trail which is consistent and presents historical data.
Businesses are required to hold statutory certification for specific equipment and certain training, for example, Fork Lift truck driving. All certificates should be valid, up to date and available for audit by a third party.
Preventing and reducing accidents at work should be one of your top priorities. But with large teams of people to manage, shift work to oversee and staying on top of legislation, this can feel difficult to manage. Work-related issues within the warehousing industry remain a major issue, so taking the time to get on top of your health and safety is vital.
Our team has experience in the industry and are on hand to help you stay on top of changes and make improvements which will help you keep your people safe in the warehouse. Download a free checklist to help you keep your workers safe in your warehouse. Or speak to one of our consultants today. We are happy to help. Book a consultation.
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