Warehouse safety.

 

The law

You have a duty under health and safety law to protect, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees as well as people whomight be affected by your work. These people would include the public, voluntaryworkers and contractors working on site. This duty includes providing:• a safe and healthy workplace;• safe machinery and a safe system of work; and• adequate information, instruction, training and supervision.Employees also have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety andthat of others. The main legislation that applies to work activities in warehouses is listed below:Health and safety legislation• Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974• Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999• Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998• Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998• Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992• Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992• Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992• Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 as amended• Electricity at Work Regulations 1989• Heath and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996• Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995

 

Safety policy

Your health and safety policy document is your starting point to managing health andsafety in the workplace. It outlines your commitment in planning and managing healthand safety to:• achieve acceptable standards• reduce accidents; and• reduce cases of work-related illness.The policy contains your statement of general policy on health and safety at work. Itshould also include the organisation and arrangements for putting that policy intopractice.By law, if you employ five or more people, you must have a written health and safetypolicy.More information: HSE guidance – Stating Your Business: guidance on preparinga health and safety policy document.

 

Assessing risk

Assessing risk involves carefully examining what, when and how people could beharmed by your work. It is a process in which you should weigh up whether you havetaken enough precautions to prevent harm, or whether it is reasonable for you to domore.The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (ManagementRegulations) say you must assess risk to identify the nature and level of risksassociated with a particular work activity.You will need to carry out separate risk assessments for different work activities in thewarehouse. You should take appropriate precautions to minimise and control theserisks.By assessing risk, you are providing the background for safe systems of work where youcan minimise risks as far as is reasonably practicable.Safe systems of work are formal procedures which you should follow to make sure thatwork is carried out safely. You must make sure that the systems of work you follow areput into practice properly and monitored. You must also give details to those actually atrisk.If you employ five or more people, you need to record the significant findings of your riskassessment. Your risk assessment should also consider the health and safety of peopleyou do not employ, in other words, contractors and the public.Young people at workThe Management Regulations give you particular responsibilities toward young peoplewho work for you.Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999You must:􀂙 assess risk to all young people under 18 years of age, before they start work;􀂙 take account of their psychological or physical immaturity, inexperience, and lack ofawareness of existing or potential risks; and􀂙 introduce measures to minimise the risks, as far as is reasonably practicable.More information: HSE guidance – Five steps to risk assessment. Young peopleat work – a guide for employers.

 

Equipment safety

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) coverpreventing and controlling of risks to your workers’ health and safety from the equipmentthat they use at work. Work equipment includes lift trucks, pallet trucks, ladders, drillingmachines, circular saws, elevating work platforms, lifting slings and motor vehicles. Aswell as the requirements of PUWER, lifting equipment (such as lift truck, scissors lift,lifting crane and passenger lift) is also covered by the requirements of the LiftingOperation and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).The following can make using work equipment unsafe.• Using the wrong equipment for the job.• Lack of guards or poor guards and inadequate or no control devices on machines.• Failure to keep the equipment properly maintained.• Failure to provide the right information, instruction and training for those who use theequipment.Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998You must make sure that equipment provided for use at work is:􀂙suitable for the intended use;􀂙 safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, inspectedto make sure it remains safe;􀂙 used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction, andtraining;􀂙 used with suitable safety measures, for example, guards, protective devices,markings, warnings, system control devices such as emergency stop buttons, andpersonal protective equipment.More information: (HSE) Safe use of work equipment - Provision and Use of WorkEquipment 1998 (ACOP).

 

Safe use of lift trucks

Lift trucks are designed to lift loads and move and restack them in a different place.Every year there are about 8000 major injuries involving lift trucks which are reported toboth local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). These injuries, somefatal, create suffering for those involved and their families.Lift-truck accidents often happen where there is no adequate or suitable training. Thistraining is vital in reducing accidents.Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, you must makesure that a lift truck is only used to carry out tasks under conditions, for which it issuitable. And, all operators you employ should have had adequate or suitable training.The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 say you must makesure that all lifting operations are properly planned by a competent person, appropriatelysupervised, and carried out in a safe way.Any equipment used for lifting must be:• suitable for the job;• properly maintained; and• marked with the safe working load.You must have lifting equipment thoroughly examined by a competent person (normallyby an independent insurance engineer); at least every 12 months or in line with anexamination scheme. And you must also make sure any lifting equipment used for liftingpeople is examined at least every six months.As well as thorough examinations, you should regularly inspect equipment to make sureit is in a safe working condition. You should make sure that the people who carry out theregular inspections are qualified to do this.TrainingThe Approved Code of Practice:rider operated lift trucks says:• employers must provide basic training with recognised instructors;• trainees must pass a test of their competence; and• you must keep records of that training.Operating a lift truck safelyThe first stage in operating a lift truck safely is to assess the risk of any operations. Thisassessment should form the background for a safe system of work.You should consider the following precautions for operating a lift truck safely.􀀹 Get the right truck for the job.􀀹 Maintain all lift trucks regularly in line with manufacturer’s instructions and make sureseats are maintained to reduce, as far as possible, unhealthy postures and vibration.􀀹 Choose only suitable employees to train as operators and authorise them in writingto operate lift trucks.􀀹 Make sure that there is a system for preventing unauthorised employees fromoperating lift trucks.􀀹 Avoid routes near vulnerable areas or equipment, for example, flammable liquidstores, or protect these stores.􀀹 Separate pedestrian routes from ones used by lift trucks using a physical barrier.Also use clear warning signs.􀀹 If putting up a physical barrier is not reasonably practicable, you should make surethere are other arrangements, such as using audible or visual warning devices.􀀹 If lift trucks and people work alongside each other, enforce rules for low speed andsafe reversing.􀀹 Driving areas should be strong enough, well maintained, as flat as possible and freefrom obstructions.􀀹 If the lift truck is used on the road (to load and unload, for example), provide asecond person to help with controlling traffic, as necessary.􀀹 For rider-operated lift trucks used regularly on the road for long periods, the driversmust be licensed by the Department of Transport.􀀹 Keep keys secure when the trucks are not being used.􀀹 Do not use forks, pallets or bins to lift people to work at heights. You must useproperly designed mobile work platforms or safety cages.􀀹 You should make sure lift trucks are fitted with protective devices, such as ‘roll-overprotective structures (ROPS)’, ‘falling object protective structures (FOPS)’ and‘restraining systems’ (seat belts), where necessary.More information: HSE guide – Safety in working with lift truck. ACOP – Rideroperatedlift trucks: Operator training.

 

Manual handling

In almost all warehouses goods will be handled manually. Manual-handling operationsinvolve activities like lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving of a loadeither by hand or by bodily force. They account for more than a third of all reportedaccidents in warehouses. Most of the reported accidents cause back injury, thoughhands, arms and feet are also vulnerable. Many manual injuries build up over a periodof time rather than being caused by a single incident.Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992You must:􀂃 avoid manual handling, as much as is reasonably practicable.􀂙 assess the risk of injury from any manual handling that can’t be avoided; and􀂙 minimise the risk of injury from manual handling, as far as reasonably practicable.Information and trainingYou must provide adequate training to your workers in safe manual handling.The training should cover:􀀹 how to recognise dangerous manual handling;􀀹 appropriate systems of work;􀀹 using mechanical aids; and􀀹 good handling techniques.More information: HSE guidance – Getting to grips with manual handling: A shortguide for employers.Safety on laddersMany people suffer serious injuries from falls, because they use ladders unsafely inwarehouses. Most accidents happen because ladders are not fixed securely in place.Other causes of accidents include climbing ladders while carrying loads, overreachingand overbalancing. You should always assess the risk to decide if a ladder is the correcttype for the job.Using ladders safelyYou should consider the following precautions if you are using a ladder for workactivities.Will it reach the required height• Make sure the ladder is strong enough for the task, in good condition and free ofslippery substances.• Only one person should be on the ladder at any one time.• Regularly inspect the ladders for any faults such as a crack on the stiles and rungs.• The foot of the ladder should be supported on a firm and level surface.• Make sure that the ladder cannot slip and, wherever possible, the top should besecurely fixed.• The ladder should lean against a wall with the one-in-four rule; about one metre outof every four metres in height, normally at about a 75 degree angle to the levelsurface.• If you are using an extension ladder, there should be enough of an overlap betweensections. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.• Avoid using stepladders for side loading as they are not designed for this purpose.• Avoid working on the top platform of the stepladder. (Follow the manufacturer’sinstructions.)• Where practical, consider using aircraft stepladders, which are safer.• You should use all ladders in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.More information: HSE guidance – Safe use of ladders, stepladders and trestles.

 

Organising the warehouse

You should follow these guidelines to help you provide a safe work environment in yourwarehouse.Traffic routesA wide variety of vehicle movements take place in a warehouse yard. Large vehicles,such as lorries, vans and lift trucks, can cause serious accidents while manoeuvring andreversing. You must put a high priority on reducing the risks of an accident caused by amoving vehicle.Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992You must:􀀹 organise safe traffic routes.You can reduce risk by using a mixture of safe working practices and providing a safeworking environment. You should consider the following precautions.• You should keep pedestrians and vehicles apart as much as is reasonablypracticable. you can.• All traffic routes should be clearly signed; using safety signs, and you shouldconsider one-way traffic systems.• If you use lift trucks and other vehicles, all areas should be flat and withoutobstruction.• You should mark out storage areas and gangways clearly on the floor.• Gangways should be wide enough to allow you to move any mechanical-handlingequipment like lift and pallet trucks safely.• You should provide staircases and or ramps with suitable handrails for pedestrianaccess.• If pedestrians share the same doorway with a truck or vehicle, you should providea doorway with vision panels and clearly mark them with the safe clearanceheight.• You should avoid sharp bends and blind corners for vehicles. If this is notreasonably practicable, use suitable warning signs and well-positioned mirrors.• You should maintain road surfaces properly and, in particular, do not allow potholes to develop.• Do not place vulnerable items such as LPG storage tanks near traffic routes. If this isunavoidable, you should provide suitable protection for the vehicle.• You should enforce a reasonable speed limit.• Avoid reversing where possible and provide help for drivers who are reversing.Consider fitting reversing alarms and use a trained member of staff as a guide.• Make sure company drivers are properly trained.• Where other drivers come onto the site, make sure they are familiar with the site rulesand supervise them as necessary.• All roads should be adequately lit.• Have a strict site rule that unattended vehicles are always switched off and the keysremoved.• Take precautions to avoid contact with overhead electrical cables if there are any.• Keep vehicles maintained in a safe condition. Regularly check brakes, mirrors, wipersand lights.• Clearly mark a parking area for employees’ private vehicles and those of visitors. Thereshould be easy, safe, well-signalled access to company offices from a visitors’ car park.• Make sure that people on foot wear reflective high-visibility clothing when they have towork near moving vehicles.• Train all site workers to recognise the dangers.More information: HSE guidance – Workplace transport safety: guidance foremployers.LightingIn warehouses, you need to provide adequate lighting, either natural or artificial. Youshould provide adequate lighting in all working and access areas so work activities canbe carried out in a safe way. The level and type of lighting will depend on:• the type of work being carried out; and• the dangers associated with it.You should arrange lighting so it does not create shadows in the aisles.Storage and rackingRacking is the most common way of storing goods in warehouses. Damage caused toracking (for instance, being hit by lift trucks) can reduce the load it can carry. As thedamage increases over time, the load it can carry reduces until it eventually collapses.Protecting rackingIf racking is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles, you should protect it. Youshould use renewable column guards or guide rails to prevent trucks getting too close tothe main structure. Corner uprights are especially at risk and you should carefullyprotect and paint them in a bright obvious and eye catching colour.Installing safe rackingYou should make sure that:• you install racking in line with the manufacturer’s instructions;• you mount racking on sound, level floors which can withstand the point loading at eachbase plate;• if you use mechanical-handling equipment, such as lift trucks, the racking is securelyfixed to the floor;• aisles are wide enough to allow any mechanical-handling equipment to move safely;• when adjustable pallet racking is installed, the beam connector locks are alwayssecurely fixed at the ends of each beam to prevent the beams being moved accidentally,for example by lift trucks; and• you mark racking with the safe working load. You must never carry more than this.Maintaining the rackingTo make sure you maintain the racking, you should:• regularly inspect it to find any faults and keep a logbook of inspections, damage andrepairs;• encourage employees to report any damage, however minor, so that you can assessits effect on safety;• if you are not sure how safe the racking system is, contact the manufacturer foradvice; and• prevent the faulty racking from being used – normally by unloading it safely andputting control measures in place.Stacking loads on pallets safely (block stacking)• Avoid stacking loads of cartons or packs on pallets, which could be crushed.• Make sure that any loads on pallets, which can be stacked directly on top of eachother are positioned on a firm level base.• Stacking should only be carried out in accordance with the manufacturersinstructions. If this information is not available carry out a risk assessment todetermine a safe stacking height.• Keep enough clearance between rows so you can stack safely.• Inspect stacks regularly for stability and use corrective measures if necessary.Placing and retrieving stockYou should use mechanical-handling equipment to place and retrieve stock from rackinginstead of manual handling. If this is not reasonably practicable, you can considermanual handling as a ‘last resort’. However, you should take account of the following.• Avoid climbing the racking or shelving to place or remove goods.• Use free-standing mobile platform steps rather than ordinary ladders.• You should give your employees adequate information, instruction and training as wellas supervision, when needed to carry out tasks.More information: HSE guidance – Health & safety in retail and wholesalewarehouses.

 

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 cover all personalprotective equipment used by people working in warehouses. Your risk assessment willhelp you decide when there is a need for PPE. You should only consider this equipmentas a ‘last resort’ in reducing risks in your warehouse, after considering other controlmeasures. You can provide the equipment as well as other control measures forreducing risk to your workers as much as is reasonably practicable.The equipment includes:• protective clothing such as overalls, waterproof equipment, gloves, safety footwear,helmets and so on; and• protective equipment such as eye protectors and ear protectors.Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992You must:􀂙 provide suitable equipment free of charge to protect employees against risks whichyou have not controlled in other ways;􀂙 take all reasonable steps to make sure it is properly used;􀂙 maintain equipment in clean and efficient working order and store it appropriatelywhen not in use; and􀂙 provide information, instruction and training.Before providing the equipment you must:􀂙 assess the risks to health and safety which have not been avoided in other ways;and􀂙 define what job the equipment must do to minimise those risks.Employees must:􀀹 use the equipment provided; and􀀹 report any loss or faults to you.More information: HSE guidance – A short guide to Personal ProtectiveEquipment at Work Regulations 1992.

 

Hazardous substances

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) sayyou must assess the risk of chemicals and substances used or stored in warehouses,which may be a danger to health.Substances that are dangerous to health include substances that are labelled ‘verytoxic’, ‘toxic’, ‘corrosive’, ‘harmful’, or ‘irritant’. It also includes substances which have‘maximum exposure limits’ or ‘occupational exposure standards’ set by the Health &Safety Executive (HSE). Other dangerous substances include harmful micro-organisms,substantial quantities of dust and any material, mixture or compound you use at work, orarising from work activities, which can harm health.Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999You must:􀂙 assess the risk to health􀂙 record the risk assessment; if you have 5 or more employees􀂙 prevent exposure, for example by using a less hazardous substance or adifferent process;􀂙 if prevention is not reasonably practicable, control the exposure; for example byisolating or enclosing the process or, if this is not reasonably practicable, localexhaust ventilation;􀂙 provide personal protective equipment, if prevention or control is not enough onits own;􀂙 carry out air monitoring and health surveillance where necessary; and􀂙 inform, instruct and train your employees.The manufacturers and suppliers must provide enough information about the risksassociated with hazardous substances. Labels and safety information sheets suppliedwith them contain important information about the dangers to help you use and handlethem safely.Storing packaged hazardous substancesStoring packaged dangerous substances in large quantities may create serious risks, notonly to people working at the warehouse but also to the general public in the area and totheenvironment. The precautions that will achieve a reasonable standard of control shouldtake account of the physical and chemical properties of the substances you will store.This is because different substances create different risks. To make sure you store anydangerous substances safely, you should consider the following precautions.• Consider the risks created by any packaged hazardous substances before takingthem in for storage.• The warehouse should be suitable for the storage. You should only acceptsubstances which need special conditions for storage when you have met thoseconditions.• Check any deliveries against the shipment documents to check they are acceptable.• Inspect the packaging to make sure it is not damaged. You should havearrangements in place to deal with any leaking, broken or punctured container.• Separate dangerous substances from material which can catch fire easily.Preferably, you should store them in separate areas of the warehouse which are fireseparatedfrom the rest of the building.• Train your workers in handling all packages containing dangerous substances safely.• Avoid overstocking and give details of the maximum storage capacity for eachstorage area.• Do not store packages longer than the maximum recommended storage times.• Make sure you have a safe system of work in place to deal with any spills.• Provide protective clothing and equipment if workers have to be exposed to anydangerous substances (overalls, eye protectors, safety shoes, gloves, respiratoryprotective equipment and so on).• Place warning notices or signs at the entrances to the warehouse if you are storingdangerous substances.More information: HSE guidance – A brief guide to COSHH regulations, GeneralCOSHH ACOP, Carcinogens ACOP and Biological agents ACOP.

 

Reporting accidents

You are responsible, under the law, to report certain accidents, occupational diseasesand dangerous events at work to your health and safety enforcing authority; through theIncident Contact Centre (ICC).Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995You must report:􀂙 a death or major injury to an employee or member of the public – such as, a fracture(other than to fingers, thumbs or toes), amputation, dislocation of the shoulder, hip,knee or spine or unconsciousness caused by asphyxia or being exposed to aharmful substance;􀂙 an over-three-day injury (when an employee is unable to work for over three daysbecause of an accident at work but does not have a major injury);􀂙 a work-related disease (for example, skin diseases such as dermatitis);􀂙 a dangerous event, for example, lifting equipment collapsing, overturning or failing.Key points􀂾 Phone the incident contact centre (ICC) immediately about any death, major injury ordangerous event. Phone: 0845 300 9923, fax 0845 300 99 24, website -www.riddor.gov.uk or e-mail - riddor@natbrit.com.􀂾 You must contact ICC within 10 days, if an employee is injured and this preventsthem doing their normal work for more than three days.􀂾 Contact ICC about any reportable work-related disease.􀂾 Keep records of reportable incidents and diseases.More information: HSE guidance – RIDDOR Explained. Reporting of Injuries,Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995.

 

Glossary of Terms

Reasonably Practicable - This requires the risk to be weighed against the cost to prevent it. If the risk is small andthe cost excessive, then precautions need not be taken. However, it is for the dutyholder to prove that it was not reasonably practicable at the time when assessing therisk.

Duty Holder-This is the person, usually the employer who has the responsibility of complying withHealth & Safety legislation.

 

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