Working in a warehouse can be a rewarding job, but one that’s not without its risks to personal safety. In particular, the combination of moving machinery and heavy loads can present many hazards to those working in warehouses, as well as those visiting or inspecting them. But these types of dangers are far from unique within a warehouse, especially when you take personal safety as a whole into consideration.
It is the responsibility of employers to provide PPE to protect workers, regardless of the industry they may work within and warehouses are no exception.
While businesses will need to read up on official HSE guidelines and undertake personal advice from a health and safety officer, here are some of the top items of PPE that may be required in a warehouse.
- Moving machinery
- Possible exposure to extreme temperatures or hazardous materials
- Loud noise
- Slips, trips and falls
- Falling objects
- Liquid aerosols, dust and fumes
- Any other risks unique to a specific warehouse
The activities that take place in warehouses can pose threats to eyes through flying debris or harmful light exposure such as UV light, blue light or LED lights.
Depending on what threat to eye health exists, it may be necessary to wear safety goggles. Alternatively, safety glasses with built in filters can ensure workers can still see clearly but harmful light types have been filtered out.
With any type of safety glasses or goggles, the eye shield must fully wrap around all angles to offer the maximum level of protection.
If sound levels in a workplace exceed 85dB then ear defenders must be legally worn to protect the hearing of workers. Although, for noisy work in general, ear defenders in the form of headphones or earplugs should always be offered to employees.
One consideration in a warehouse environment is that if ear defenders are worn, workers may not hear hazards such as moving machinery approaching. So a risk assessment needs to be carried out to ensure employees remain physically safe, including in the event of a fire alarm among any other scenario where a reduced ability to hear could cause additional hazards.
Face Masks/Respiratory Protection
Face masks have become the most recognisable type of PPE in recent years. While face masks may be worn to prevent respiratory transmission of Covid-19 and similar viruses, higher grade masks can prevent dust, fumes and other harmful particles from entering the lungs.
The exact grade of face mask will need to be determined based on the activities in the warehouse and potential risks. Some high grade face mask types include FFP2, FFP3 and N95. Although for workers that come into contact with hazardous fumes, a respiratory hood or helmet kit may be required.
High Visibility Clothing
High visibility clothing is essential in a warehouse to ensure everyone can be clearly seen. Some high visibility clothing types include jackets, t-shirts, trousers and waistcoats.
Care must be taken to maintain high visibility clothing, as it will lose its reflective qualities after around 25 washes. When this happens, the worker may no longer be visible in low lighting conditions including from a distance. For warehouses that have distribution centres, clear visibility is even more important when working outside or alongside moving distribution vehicles.
All kinds of injuries can occur to the toes, foot bones, ankles or soft tissue of the feet within a warehouse. Safety shoes can have steel toe caps and metatarsal protection, as well as properties such as being slip-resistant. Though the key to a great safety shoe is investing in a good quality brand, which offers a high level of comfort for workers without compromising on safety features.
In a warehouse environment, workers’ hands are kept very busy indeed. Injuries may arise due to cuts from packaging including cardboard or strapping. Frequent washing of hands may lead to painful, dry cracked skin. Extreme temperatures or hazards could cause burns or other injuries to the skin.
As with safety shoes, there are a wide variety of safety gloves that can be worn by warehouse workers. All gloves have a different level of abrasion protection, as well as various other properties geared for specific environments and usage applications.
Metreel Material Handling UK
Now that your workers have been kitted out with some of our most recommended items of PPE for warehouse environments, it’s time to equip them with the right material handling solutions.
Metreel is based in Derbyshire working across the UK and beyond, as a leading manufacturer of material handling, fall protection equipment and powerfeed cabling. We specialise in handling equipment that’s geared towards warehouse use, all with the aim of making your operations safer and more efficient.