Here at Metreel, we’re big on safety which is why in today’s post we are turning our attention to our top warehouse safety tips.
Warehouses by their very nature are designed to house a large amount of often large or heavy items, along with being a hub of activity with goods constantly arriving and departing. All of which makes for a productive business capable of generating an impressive turnover.
Though, in order for this to truly be the case, all those who own or indeed work in a warehouse need to ensure that health and safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Unfortunately, 1,300 people a year are hospitalised in the UK directly due to accidents within a warehouse environment, according to the British Safety Council.
While every warehouse will need to have an independent safety review carried out by a qualified expert, we’ve outlined some of the top safety hazards to look out for in a warehouse, so that your workers remain safe and healthy while at work.
What Are The Hazards In A Warehouse?
- Physical strain
- Moving machinery
- Loading and unloading
- Falling objects
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Lack of safety training or knowledge
- Slips, trips and falls
How To Improve Warehouse Safety
The best way to improve warehouse safety is to always ensure safety in general is the first priority. As well as conducting safety reviews and listening to employee feedback, an appointed health and safety officer should ensure health and safety guidelines are being constantly adhered to.
Let’s take a look at some of the top aspects that health and safety officers need to prioritise, based on the above list of some of the most common hazards in a warehouse environment.
Vehicle safety is an excellent place to start since the large majority of accidents and deaths that occur within a warehouse involve vehicles, especially forklifts. Sadly, approximately 30 people die a year due to accidents involving forklifts, and as mentioned above, 1,300 a year end up in hospital due to accidents, which are often life-changing due to the injuries that are commonly sustained.
The first port of call is to ensure that before a staff member uses a forklift, they have received the correct training. As well as being over the age of 18, the staff member should have attended and passed a relevant forklift training course.
Employers can also do their part by ensuring the areas in which forklifts will be used are free from obstructions and similar hazards that could present a danger to the driver or other staff, even when the correct driving protocols have been followed. As an example, banning reversing in favour of a one way system can make it much easier for staff on the ground to predict the direction the vehicle will take.
The vehicle should also be regularly inspected and maintained, since if the steering or brakes fail this could also cause a serious accident, even with the most careful of driving. Be sure to also enforce a zero tolerance for any staff member that drives in a dangerous manner, including if they operate any machinery with impaired judgement.
Prevent Slips, Trips And Falls
In terms of the most common health and safety problem in workplaces in general (rather than warehouses alone), slips, trips and falls top the list. Falls from a height actually account for the most deaths of all, accounting for 40 deaths per year.
A warehouse poses various dangers for slips, trips and falls both on the ground and when working with material handling at a height.
Starting from the ground up, which is where slips and trips and most likely to occur. It’s essential that the ground surface does not possess any slipping or tripping hazards due to the surface type or hazards such as a wet floor, particularly without the correct warning signs in place.
As well as ensuring staff follow good housekeeping practices, warehouse managers should actively look to eliminate any potential hazards on the ground. For example, by using anti-slip tape and paint, ensuring the floor surfaces are level and using heavy duty cord covers for any cords that run along the floor.
In terms of working at a height, all staff must receive the correct training, and be given the appropriate apparel such as fall arrest equipment. This happens to be our area of speciality here at Metreel, so please contact us using the information at the end of this post if you require any fall protection equipment for your workplace, or if you need any advice on keeping your workers safe while they work at a height.
Lifting is one of the main activities that takes place within a warehouse, including manual lifting and lifting carried out by material handling machines.
For any manual lifting tasks, staff must be correctly trained so that they know how to lift safely. Otherwise, it’s very easy for the likes of back injuries to occur with even minor sprains requiring days if not weeks to recover from. Wherever possible, manual handling should be avoided in favour of machinery such as trucks and trolleys, though where manual handling is required, operators must be aware of the SWL (safe working load).
Fire safety is an important aspect to cover in terms of warehouse safety because it’s not always considered to the same degree as the likes of lifting, trips, machinery etc. Yet, as with any other workplace, a fire poses a huge risk to personal safety, not to mention life and so your warehouse needs to have the correct planning and procedures in place.
Fire drills must be carried out at least yearly, so that staff have active experience in using the designated escape routes and exits. During the drill, note down any difficulties any staff have, so these can be ironed out before a real emergency has a chance to take place. Appointing a fire warden is a wise idea here so that you can be sure a member of your team is taking active responsibility for the fire safety of the building.
Along with installing fire alarms, make sure signage on how to exit the building in case of a fire is clearly displayed, emergency lighting is installed and fire extinguishers are strategically placed in the building.
Also ensure that any materials that are handled are done so in a way that is not likely to cause a fire, particularly if the contents are flammable. Staff will need to attend training on how to store chemicals safely for this very reason.
Warehouse Safety Equipment UK
Metreel is a leading manufacturer of handling equipment in the UK, specialising in personal safety, powerfeed and mechanical handling solutions. We can help your business to improve its productivity and efficiency, but most importantly our solutions promote safety within the workplace too, including within warehouse environments.
If you would like to find out more about our products, or if you’re interested in any other of the services we provide, please give us a call on 0115 647 0451, or drop us an email.
Alternatively, check out the Metreel Brochure to discover our full range of products and services.