If everyone employed in a warehouse environment sticks to the rules it should be a very safe place to work. Unfortunately, for various reasons, mistakes are made, short cuts taken and safety rules are simply ignored. There is only one likely outcome if any of that happens – somebody is likely to have an accident or maybe goods and equipment is at risk of being damaged. Ultimately the owner of a warehouse is responsible for providing a workplace that is safe, as required under the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974, but it is up to those employed there to operate within those guidelines.
Take a look at this awful forklift accident video DMG Freight Services found on you tube taken in America. Now you can see why it is vital that your staff are trained to a high standard.
There are obvious pitfalls wherever you look. Boxes can fall off high shelves if not stacked properly; people can trip over carelessly discarded material or goods; fork lift truck drivers might accidentally collide with shelving or even other workers. There is an alarming statistic that shows that almost a quarter of all transportation accidents in the workplace involve fork lift trucks.
But what about the LESS obvious risks to be found in a typical warehouse?
I will list three possible hazards below which warehouse workers may not be adequately protected against.
Respiratory problems – in a large warehouse containing thousands of textile bales or rolls of carpet you will almost certainly find minute fibres floating in the air. Every time stock is moved, loaded or unloaded these fibres will be agitated and it could become a serious problem for workers in close proximity. It is possible to install extraction units to help alleviate the problem but not all warehouses will have that. Breathing problems can also occur if the warehouse has a lot of vehicle movements in and out of the building. Even backing up to the loading ramps could create a fair amount of diesel fume pollution within the building.
Poor lighting – workers who have been in the environment for some time might not even notice but inadequate lighting will very likely be a cause of high levels of workplace errors and possibly accidents. When it is necessary to retrieve something in between storage racks or from dark recesses and corners there may be insufficient illumination to carry out the task safely. Hazards may then become difficult to detect or avoid.
Faulty portable electrical equipment – often people concentrate on the “bigger picture” and go around in hi-visibility jackets, hard hats and steel-capped boots but then ignore the small things. Kettles, microwave ovens, radio/cd players, portable gas or electric heaters – these are all things that workers can easily take for granted and not consider them as any kind of risk. But, with daily, sometimes constant use, they can deteriorate and need properly checking and certifying as safe to use by a qualified electrician.