Warehouse Health and Safety Information – Part One

Warehouse Health and Safety Information – Part One

11th April 2019

As we reported last week, warehousing is on the increase in the UK, partly as a result of the fast-approaching Brexit and, in no small measure, the sharp rise in online purchasing as more people take advantage of this convenient method of buying goods and services.  Whatever the reasons for the rise in warehousing activity, it’s good news for the construction industry here in the UK as there are around £3 billion worth of contracts right now for the construction of more industrial and commercial warehouses which are used by manufacturers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and e-commerce websites.

As we pointed out last week, working in a warehouse often entails some sort of work at height to access products that are stacked high in order to make the most efficient use of space available.  Here at Safety Fabrications, we supply our customers with a range of access solutions for work at height, including companionway ladders, step units, stairs and walkways.  Many of these are delivered in component form ready for assembly and installation with the option of onsite adjustment to ensure that they meet the specific requirements of each individual customer.

Warehouse work presents a range of health and safety risks, so today we’re going to take a look at some information that will help warehouse managers and workers stay safe at work.  The main causes of accidents in the warehousing and storage industry are as follows:

  • Slips and trips
  • Manual handling
  • Work at height
  • Vehicles in and around the warehouse
  • Being struck by a falling or moving object

Slips– although often seen as trivial, these are commonplace in warehouses and usually happen either because the floor is contaminated with a spill (water, oil, powder, foodstuff, etc.).  Discarded plastic packaging, label backing, etc. can also cause slips.  Most warehouse floors have quite good slip-resistance when clean and dry so good housekeeping is vital to avoid slips.  Wearing the right type of footwear can also decrease the likelihood of suffering a slip, but this is considered a last resort and eliminating the hazard is far preferable.

Trips – uneven flooring or objects on the floor are the main causes of trips.  Good housekeeping involves ensuring that goods, packaging, waste items, strapping loops, etc. are not left lying around but disposed of immediately.  Planning workflows efficiently and keeping floors and traffic routes free from obstructions is an important aspect of warehouse management.  For uneven flooring, regular inspections should be carried out, holes and cracks filled in and all areas should be lit well.

Manual handling – if a manual handling task is likely to present a risk, and cannot be avoided, the risk of injury must be minimised.  Carry out a manual handling assessment for all manual handling operations, considering the task, the load, the working environment, individual capability and any other factors.  The use of lift trucks, pallet trucks, trolleys, chutes, conveyors and scissor lifts can all reduce manual handling operations (but all bring with them different safety issues to consider).  Make sure all employees receive manual handling training and are trained to operate any lifting devices in use.  All training should be task-specific and should complement a safe system of work, rather than be a substitute for it.

Next week we’ll be covering work at height, vehicles and falling objects in Part Two of this article.  If you want to make sure that you don’t miss the second part, follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you know when it’s published.