The main hazards associated with warehouses (the list is not exhaustive) include:
Injuries arising from lifting/pushing/pulling etc
In order to prevent such injuries employers are required to take precautionary measures to minimise hazardous manual handling operations e.g. pallets, boxes etc. and use lifting, handling and assisting aids wherever practicable e.g. pallet trucks and trolleys. Employers must also carry out a sufficient assessment of manual handling operations.
All equipment should be installed and maintained by a competent person. It is recommended (IEE Wiring Regs BS7671) that the fixed system is inspected/tested at least every five years (or more frequently as recommended by a qualified electrician) and that all electrical appliances are examined/checked ("PAT" Tested) at a frequency appropriate to the risk.
Regular maintenance should include visual checks for general wear and tear ensuring that plugs, leads and sockets are in good condition and that there is no exposed wiring. Where appropriate, industrial type plugs and sockets should be used as these are more robust and can stand up to the conditions better. Working areas should have sufficient socket outlets to avoid trailing cables. Any corrective actions must be carried out immediately.
Safe use of machinery
To prevent harm to employees ensure that all staff are fully trained to use the equipment provided e.g. Forklift Trucks, compactors, pallet invertors, dock levellers etc. Ensure that workplace equipment is maintained and it is safe for use and that it is the right equipment for the job. There is a statutory requirement that a competent person, usually your insurance company engineer, must periodically inspect certain equipment e.g. Forklifts, dock levellers compressors etc.
Workplace transport is one of the most "multi-factorial" risk control issues employers have to cope with. Adequately controlling the risks depends on establishing and sustaining control over a wide range of matters which broadly fall into three categories: "Safe Site" (well defined traffic routes where every effort is made to separate pedestrians and vehicles and the need for reversing kept to a minimum) "Safe Vehicle" (Effective maintenance of steering, brakes, lights and reversing aids [fitted when appropriate]) "Safe Driver" (Fork lift truck drivers trained and competent in accordance with ACoP - HSE Publication L117 (HSE Books). There should also be similar training for drivers of other types of vehicles coupled with the active supervision of driver behaviour.
Floors, corridors and stairs
In order to prevent slips and trips these areas should be kept free from obstructions. Floor coverings and route ways should be maintained and all areas should be well lit. Staff should wear sensible footwear. Warning signs should be displayed during cleaning to warn staff of potentially slippery surfaces. Ensure that any change in floor level is clearly visible.
Falls from height
- All work at height should be assessed and avoided wherever practicable. If it cannot be avoided then access equipment must be well maintained, regularly inspected and securely stored. Staff must be instructed on the safe system of work and trained how to safely use access equipment. Getting on and off larger vehicles e.g. activities such as loading, unloading, sheeting, etc. can lead to falls causing injury and fatality. Where possible the need to climb on top of vehicles should be avoided. The edges of loading bays need to be clearly marked.
- Further guidance can be obtained online (see link on this page)
Most goods are stored in some form of racking system. These should be regularly checked for damage. Racking should not be used if damaged. It is recommended that the corners of racking be protected to minimise the effect of impact from forklift trucks etc. Storage systems should not be used over capacity as this can result in collapse. Notices should be attached to all racking installations advising the safe maximum working loads. Mezzanine floors must have edge protection.
- LPG (propane or butane) is a colourless liquid, which readily evaporates into a gas. It has no smell, although it will normally have an odour added to help detect leaks. When mixed with air, the gas can burn or explode when it meets a source of ignition. LPG installations need to be protected and located to prevent collision by workplace transport.
- Information on the safe use and storage of LPG in cylinders and small bulk installations is published online (see links).
- Further guidance on the storage of LPG containers can be found in the Liquefied Petroleum Association's (LPGA) Code of Practice CoP7 (Storage of full and empty LPG cylinders and cartridges) - LPGA, Pavilion 16, Headlands Business Park, Salisbury Road, Ringwood, Hampshire BH24 3BP Tel. No. 01425 461612
Suitable and sufficient arrangements should be made for cold store workers so that they can periodically warm themselves. Thermal/protective clothing should be provided.
- Pallet Racking Safety - A User's Guide - Institute of Logistics (Douglas House, Queens Square, Corby NN17 1PL Tel. No. 01536 205500
- British Trade Association of the Storage Equipment Industry (see link on this page)
- HSE Publication - Workplace Transport Safety HSG136 (see link on this page)
Main legislative requirement
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
- The Work at Height Regulations 2005
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)