How to improve warehouse safety
Getting warehouse health and safety right is integral to employee wellbeing and site efficiency. That’s why we’ve invited Dan Casey, Marketing Manager at hydraulic lifting equipment manufacturer Penny Hydraulics, to share some tips to help improve warehouse safety..
Warehouse operators are responsible for implementing and maintaining health and safety standards across the site, from following building regulations and operating machinery to employee training and warehouse insurance. Having strict procedure in place is key for employee wellbeing, helping to reduce the risk of injury and, ultimately, save time and money. In this article, I’m going to share some tips which can help you improve your warehouse health and safety standards.
Vehicles and equipment
In a busy warehouse, vehicles and equipment can be a major source of accident and injury, whether through improper use or a genuine mistake. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to ensure these risks are minimised. The first is to use only fully trained machinery operators that are aware of all relevant health and safety factors. A strict disciplinary procedure must be in place for any employees that misuse vehicle and equipment.
Practical measures can also be taken to protect employees and equipment from potential damage, such as installing bumpers on racking, columns, and dock areas. In some instances, such as when you have mezzanine storage levels, it might be a good idea to forgo forklifts in exchange for goods lifts. They require fewer mechanical movements to operate, which will reduce both wear and tear and risk of injury.
Each employee should be trained in the specific skills required for their job to help improve both their efficiency and safety. It can be a wise idea to assess your current skill needs and train staff accordingly. Human error is the cause of many accidents in the warehouse environment, both with and without vehicles. While you can’t stop individuals from making a one-off mistake, you can minimise this risk by providing enough relevant training.
Aside from training in the use of vehicles such as forklifts, employers must train their employees on the correct ways to lift and carry loads, use ladders and other equipment, and maintain best health and safety practices. To minimise the risks of employee fatigue or concentration loss, ensure they take regular breaks throughout the day and aren’t working a shift pattern that is too heavy.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The last line of defence for your employees is their personal protective equipment (PPE), and it’s your responsibility to ensure they have what they need. Integral to safety, PPE is the clothing and equipment used to protect workers from potential hazards. This can include items such as hard hats, hi-visibility clothing, safety goggles, boots, gloves, and anything else that keeps workers protected.
Employers must provide employees with the necessary PPE to do the job. When deciding what PPE to use, think about each area of your warehouse. Are there outside areas where staff may need to be protected? Is there a chance that materials could fall? What materials are workers dealing with? These are all important questions for employers to consider to protect workers should the worst happen.
If you follow every letter of the law, you’ll drastically reduce the number of accidents that occur in your warehouse, however, accidents will still inevitably occur. With accident and injury comes the potential for financial loss, both in terms of stock and liability, so it is often wise to put insurance in place to keep you protected.
While acquiring warehouse insurance will protect your employees for any accident or injury that occurred on the job and building contents, it will also protect the structure itself. This is important as any damage to the warehouse could have a big impact on both your business and the ability to operate. Having every aspect of your warehousing operation covered will allow for a quicker fix if things go wrong.
Ensuring that good health and safety procedures are in place will improve employee wellbeing, reduce the risk of accidents and, ultimately, save you money in the long run.
Written by Penny Hydraulics, this article has been designed as an introductory guide to warehouse safety. For full details and rules, please see the HSE website.