Top 4 health and safety hazards in the warehousing industry

From heavy lifting to harmful substances, warehouses can be full of health hazards. But what exactly are the biggest health and safety issues in warehousing? Let’s take a look at 4 of the most common hazards and explore how they can be avoided.

1) Slips & Falls

Slips, trips and falls can occur anywhere. They can occur in the street, at home, in the office or in a warehouse. And whilst we can sometimes simply trip up over our own feet for no reason at all, there are certain things in a warehouse that can increase the risk of these kinds of incidents.

How to minimise the risk of falls in a warehouse environment

Maintaining a clear and tidy space with no obstructions is key to minimising the risk of trips or falls in a warehouse. All equipment, objects and stock should be safely stowed away with all walkways completely clear at all times.

There should also be clear processes in place for whenever any spillages occur as workers slipping over liquid or a slippery surface is a serious concern. Whenever a spillage occurs, the area should be blocked off immediately with clear signage. It should then be cleared up as soon as possible to minimise any risk. Proactively cleaning all areas including walkways is also key to maintaining a safe environment. Regularly using the appropriate warehouse floor cleaners will ensure that all walkways are clear of any contaminants that could pose a slip and fall risk.

Falling from a height could also result in serious injuries. Any work above ground level should, therefore, be subject to the correct health and safety protocol.

Ensuring that the warehouse is adequately and appropriately lit at all times is also key to minimising the risk of trips and falls. It may sound simple, but poorly lit walkways can often result in unnecessary injuries that could easily be avoided.

2) Forklifts

Forklift crashes are extremely common in the warehousing industry. Whether it’s staff messing around, inexperienced drivers losing control or a simple mistake from an otherwise competent and reliable worker, forklift crashes can cause some serious damage. Bumping into other forklifts, crashing into stock or driving over someone’s foot are all potential hazards that could injure workers and/or damage your stock. Furthermore, some forklift accidents can even be fatal.

How to increase forklift safety

To ensure the safety of your staff, your forklifts should be checked thoroughly and regularly for any mechanical issues or faults. All staff required to operate forklifts should go through proper forklift operating training as well as industry-specific training. Regularly updating your staff on the health and safety requirements is also key. And although you would hope that all of your staff are mature enough to use forklifts responsibly, if you are in doubt about a staff member’s trustworthiness, do not allow them to operate a forklift.

3) Leaks, spills & hazardous material

Warehouses often contain many different materials and substances, some of which can include hazardous chemicals. Deliveries and shipments occur regularly and sometimes, leaks or spills can occur. Large spills are of course very dangerous but smaller leaks can also be just as hazardous.

How to handle hazardous materials

First and foremost, all your staff should be properly trained to deal with hazardous material. You should also ensure that they have access to the correct and relevant PPE (personal protective equipment) before treating or being near any hazardous material.

You should have a clear protocol in place for any incidents regarding chemicals or hazardous materials. Your staff should be properly briefed and know exactly how to react if such a situation arises so that they can quickly and effectively resolve the issue and minimise any further risk or damage. These protocols and processes should be in place before any incidents ever arise. It is not something that should wait until after an accident occurs. Better safe than sorry!

4) Falling objects

In a warehouse environment, where a lot of objects and goods are stacked on top of each other, there is always a risk of objects falling or pallet racks collapsing.

Minimise the risk of falling objects

To make your stock is stored as safely as possible, you must use a bit of common sense! Make sure all pallets are securely wrapped to avoid any loose items falling off. Store the heaviest and bulkiest items at the bottom and the lighter stock above. You should also ensure that all pallets have adequate spacing between them to make it safe and easy for forklifts to access them.

Keep your warehouse safe

Keeping your warehouse safe for you and your staff is not rocket science. By using a little common sense and making sure all your workers are up to date with the relevant health and safety protocol, you can minimise your risk and protect your staff. Don’t be afraid to provide regular refresher training for all staff and provide clear signage wherever necessary. Always make sure you are compliant with the latest Health and Safety requirements for your industry and ensure that all your staff have access to the relevant PPE and are aware of your emergency protocol at all times.

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