Safety of Warehouse Employees

In the last blog we looked at the safety of the visiting engineer carrying out Thorough Examination of a forklift truck. In this blog we look at the safety of all employees in a warehouse. The relevant legislation is The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which covers a wide range of issues including safety of employees in most workplaces including warehouses.

Forklift Truck Incidents Involving a Third Person

It includes the regulatory requirements on issues such as cleanliness, lighting, floor conditions, falls and falling objects and traffic routes amongst many others.

A warehouse is a busy workplace with fast moving hive of activity. Accidents happen even in a best run warehouse but following safety rules would minimise these.

Accidents are a major financial risk for employers as it can lead to inspection by Health and Safety Executive (HSE), litigation, and fines. Accidents cause injuries resulting in employee’s absence from work impacting on production.  It can also cause damage to the property and machinery and require a great deal of paperwork and certain area of the warehouse may be closed, further impacting production.

Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of non-fatal accidents in a workplace. Hazards such as split substances, discarded boxes and cables are cause of many accidents. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately, clear any obstructions and tidy up cables. Use heavy duty cable covers if they run over the floor. Use warning signage where appropriate. Where possible, the cleaning should be done outside work hours or busy periods to reduce risks. Floors should be even to reduce risk of falling when carrying a load. Anti-slip paint and appropriate shoes will further reduce risks. Failure to identify, remove or make safe a hazard is dangerous and breaches health and safety regulations.

HSE reports that 20% of non-fatal accidents are due to manual handling such as lifting or carrying loads. Providing adequate training can reduce strain and sprain injuries. Where possible, lift heavy loads using machinery such as forklift trucks.

Crush injuries and machinery accidents in a warehouse are common resulting from operating forklift and pallet trucks and packaging machinery.  Accidents caused by being trapped by machinery can be fatal. In 2018, according to HSE statistics, 10% 0f fatal accidents were caused by collapsing or overturning machinery. Injuries caused by forklift trucks were some of the most common in a warehouse. About 1300 employees are hospitalised each year with serious injuries following a forklift accident. These accidents can be avoided by appropriate training, adequate supervision, maintenance of the equipment and clearly marked route for the for the forklift truck.

Another major cause of injury in a warehouse is from falling objects, mainly due to carelessness or poorly constructed shelves.  Pay particular attention to loading and unloading the shelves and the weight distribution.

Employers are required by law to provide employees with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and appropriate training on how to use it and care for it. There are numerous types of PPE like hard hats, high visibility jackets, steel-toe cap and anti- slip shoes. The management must access the most appropriate PPE for the task. Employees must report to the management if the PPE is damaged and need replacing.

Training, appropriate safety procedures and good house-keeping are most important to mitigate the risk of accidents and injuries.

Useful Links

Wallace School of Transport is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years' experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 02 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.

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