Warehousing and storage – safety tips for employees

Stock blocking fire exist

Stock blocking fire exist

The rise of online retailers like Amazon, have boosted the need for warehouses and storage facilities (Business wire, 2017). Small organisations and retailers almost certainly have a small stock room used to keep products and company materials.

Safety factors should be a major priority to help avoid injuries suffered by employees within storage facilities or warehouses. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that “in 2009/10 the storage, warehousing and road haulage industries reported over 8,500 work related accidents”.

Some of the main accidents suffered by employees in warehouses or storage facilities are slips, trips, objects falling from a height and forklift accidents (HSE, 2007 a). In recent news, a budget retailer was fined £1m for chaotic and dangerous working conditions. Inspections by a health and safety officer discovered that their stock was stored carelessly and piled dangerously high. They also failed to provide proper training to staff members, especially young temporary workers that joined for the Christmas season. Meanwhile a national sportswear retailer was fined £60,000 after they failed to follow their own health and safety procedures. Overstocking within one of their stores resulted in aisles and fire exists being blocked.

Serious injuries suffered from a slip, trip or an object falling from a height could be fatal if the employee is working alone and immediate medical assistance wasn’t. Organisations should implement health & safety procedures and conduct risk assessments to avoid these easily avoidable accidents.

The HSE have released a comprehensive guide that covers all aspects of health & safety in warehousing and storage (HSE, 2007 b). We have compiled some of the key tips and advice from the guide and highlighted them below:

Training

  • Appropriate training should be provided to all staff members, including seasonal temp workers.
  • Staff should be made aware of the importance of good housekeeping, including reporting spillages and prompt cleaning up.
  • Personal protection equipment (PPE) like safety hats, boots and gloves should be worn if necessary
  • If staff work alone, they should be provided with a lone worker device, that’s capable of automatically raising an alarm if they ever slip, trip and fall unconscious.

Plan

  • Design and layout of the floor space should be planned so that you can consider areas for storage, aisles, gangways, emergency escape routes etc.
  • The storage areas and aisles should be clearly marked out on the floor – with enough space for mechanical handling equipment to be manoeuvred easily.
  • Designate walkways and clearly mark their boundaries. Make sure pipes and electric cables do not obstruct these walkways and any fire escape routes.
  • Provide sufficient lighting across all pathways.

Eliminate Hazards

  • Ensure the surfaces of the floor and traffic route is completely free from any hole, slope, uneven or slippery surface.
  • Use hazard cones if there’s a temporary obstruction that’s unavoidable and is likely to be a hazard.
  • There should be sufficient storage area so that it prevents goods or other items being stored in walkways, traffic routes or in a way that obstructs fire exists.
  • Trip hazards like waste packaging, shrink wrapping, pallets, boxes or other stock items that fall onto traffic routes should be cleared immediately.

Stocking Goods safely

  • All shelves used within the warehouse or storeroom must be stable and solid.
  • Avoid over stacking, as some goods could lose stability when piled on top of each of other and fall over.
  • When stacking goods, ensure its kept well clear of light fittings, heating pipes, doors etc.
  • Always place heavier loads on the lowest and middle shelves.
  • Stack goods evenly and in straight columns.
  • Try to avoid overstocking or ordering excessive stock levels if there’s only a limited storage space available.

 

References

(Business wire, 2017) – Technavio | Business Wire. 2018. Growth in E-Commerce to Boost the Warehouse Racking Market: Technavio | Business Wire. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170912006586/en/Growth-E-Commerce-Boost-Warehouse-Racking-Market-Technavio. [Accessed 11 January 2018].

HSE, 2007 a – Health and Safety Executive. Warehousing and storage: Keep it safe INDG412. [PDF] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg412.pdf. [Accessed 11 January 2018].

HSE, 2007 b – Health and Safety Executive. Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety. (Second edition, published 2007). [PDF] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg76.pdf . [Accessed 11 January 2018].

HSE, 2018 – Health and Safety Executive. Warehousing. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/logistics/warehousing.htm. [Accessed 11 January 2018].