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How does your warehouse stack up? A Short Guide To Warehouse safety

Whether you’re a warehouse owner and operator or an employee it’s important to keep on top of health and safety regulations regarding your place of work to make sure that everyone stays safe. So, Jefferies Solicitors have written a helpful guide to ensure that you know how to stay safe in the workplace. 

What are the main causes of accidents in a warehouse?

In the 2018/2019 fiscal year, 1,860 people sustained a workplace injury per 100,000 workers who were surveyed in the Storage/Transport industry according to the Health and Safety Executive. This statistic highlights just how crucial it is to know what the health and safety standards are for your industry and to ensure that you implement them – an accident could happen to anyone. Here are three types of accidents that commonly occur in a warehouse and storage setting and how you can protect against them: 

Slips, Trips, and Falls Accidents

Slips, trips and falls usually occur because a floor is either wet or otherwise contaminated by a substance, or because a surface is uneven which causes someone to slip/trip/fall. Most floors in warehouses have good resistance when they are clean and dry so it is important to clean up any spills as soon as you are aware of them and to place signs indicating that a floor is wet if it has recently been cleaned. Any potential obstructions that could be tripped over, such as equipment or storage goods should be safely placed out of the way to lessen the risk of a fall – floor plans should be designed accordingly. Regular checks should also be done to ensure that floor surfaces are even and that any holes in the building or outside it are filled in. Warehouse employees should also wear heavy work boots, both to help with grip and to help protect their feet if something falls on them. 

Manual Handling

People commonly suffer from work-related injuries that develop over a long time such as lower back pain and neck pain. The risk of developing these sorts of pains can be lowered by correctly following manual handling techniques when lifting items. The first rule of manual handling is that if there is a potential risk involved with lifting a certain item then completing that task should be avoided if possible or machinery should be used. If it is not possible to avoid the task or use machinery than the risk should be minimised as much as possible. 

There is a specific assessment that each worker should complete in their heads or with others when they encounter a task that could incur an injury. This assessment is: 

  • What is the task at hand?
  • How heavy is the load I am attempting to lift?
  • What is the working environment like, is it safe? Is it obstructed?
  • Is my individual capability up to lifting this item or completing this task?
  • Are there any other factors that I should consider?

Your employer should inform you about when and how to make this risk assessment as well as other relevant training to manual handling and your job role. You should be allowed to use manual handling equipment and informed on how to use it, such as lift trucks or trolleys. There are also specific lifts that must be used when attempting to lift heavy items which should be highlighted through training such as bending at the knees and keeping a straight back. More information about manual handling techniques can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/manual-handling/good-handling-technique.htm

Work at Height

Any work at height must be properly assessed, supervised and carried out safely – especially as the potential injuries that could occur from a fall are likely severe. Similarly to manual handling, work at height should be avoided if possible but if it cannot be avoided safety measures should be followed and the correct equipment for the task should be used. When using a ladder or stepladder you must show that it is not practical to use an alternative, safer solution due to the task being low risk and short duration. Never climb on anything unless it is specifically designed for that purpose. Every staff member should have detailed training about how to safely work at height and about what equipment should be used and in what scenario. 

Similarly, it is important to properly store objects which could potentially fall. Where and how to store items should be laid out in a floor plan and with training. If there is a specific area that causes a greater risk for falling items it should be blocked off to general staff, only allowing those who are authorised to enter.