According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), thousands of serious accidents happen each year in warehouse environments, many involving serious injury to warehouse staff or other individuals.
Many injuries arise from trips, slips and falls, improper handling of goods and machinery and accidents involving vehicles. Others arise from badly maintained or damaged racking systems.
The aim of health and safety legislation is not to put needless red tape in the way of good business, but to prevent as many of these accidental injuries from arising in the first place.
Most damage to warehous racking occurs when it is struck by lift trucks and other vehicles. A careless manoeuvre in a forklift truck can damage supporting struts or cause stored goods to shift, affecting the load-bearing ability and structural integrity of the warehouse racking or shelving.
Unsafe, damaged or badly stacked shelving or racking can collapse. Racking inspections should be carried out – at minimum – every year and ideally every 6 months to make racking infrasrtructure is repaired and maintained properly and, above all, is safe.
If you or your employees suspect that your racking system has been damaged, it is important to follow the following steps:
- Immediately rope off or clear the area surrounding the incident in case of imminent collapse
- Report the damage and any defects, if necessary calling in your warehouse consultant or racking supplier to give the racking a clean bill of health
- Where damage can be seen, and only if it is safe to do so, offload the racking and prevent its use until remedial work has been carried out
- On an ongoing basis, conduct your own visual inspections at regular intervals
- Arrange for detailed professional racking inspections to be carried out at regular intervals by your warehouse consultant or racking supplier
- Keep a record of inspections, damage and repairs in a log book in your office
Other Warehouse Health and Safety Measures
The goal of all H & S regulation is to ensure that workers have a safe, secure and healthy working environment.
So it makes sense to put all possible measures in place to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses.
If you are in any doubt about whether your business and warehouse premises comply with current health and safety regulations, you should consult with a Warehouse Health & Safety Specialist who can advise on any measures you need to take.
But for starters, here’s our check list of common circumstances where accidents can happen – and where it’s possible to take preventative action:
1. Obstructions: Your warehouse pathways and aisles should be free of obstructions, particularly at floor level to prevent trips or falls. Examples of obstructions include goods, waste packaging, strapping loops and pallets.
2. Spillages: Spillages of liquids can cause surfaces in aisles and walkways to become slippery and unsafe and can lead to injury. Affected areas should be cordoned off until the spillage is cleared up.
3. Vehicle access: Ideally, pedestrian and vehicular access should be separated in warehouses, though this is not always possible. The best approach is to have designated pathways and traffic routes designed into your warehouse. Points to consider include minimising the need for reversing, avoiding sharp bends and blind corners and maintaining all surfaces properly.
4. Maintenance of warehouse equipment: Many accidents happen due to faulty, defective or improperly maintained equipment. To be safe, make sure that inspections of equipment are carried out by properly qualified staff at regular intervals. If in doubt about your compliance in this area, check out the ‘Workplace Health & Safety Welfare Regulations’ and ‘Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998’.
5. Use of warehouse equipment: Similarly, accidents can arise from improper use of warehouse equipment. Employees should be properly trained in the correct use of equipment by suitably qualified individuals, particularly when a job requires the use of that equipment.
6. Irresponsible behaviour: Employees have a duty to behave responsibly in the work place, but negligent or reckless behaviour on their part towards fellow employees can have unintended consequences. Make sure your employees know the code of conduct by which they are expected to abide.
Our advice is to undertake warehouse health and safety assessments at regular intervals, not just to make sure your employees have a safe environment to work in, but to make sure you comply with regulations.
Some insurance companies offer premium discounts o for well kept racking inspection and maintenance records.