Constant monitoring of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) within a warehouse is crucial to your staff safety. Working in a warehouse environment can be a very dangerous job and a lot of people aren’t aware of it. Some health and safety issues are obvious while there are others that may surprise you.
Below is a list of the top 10 Warehouse OH&S Issues that are applicable to most warehouses:
1. Storage & Racking
The storage and racking within a warehouse are an often overlooked as a potential OH&S issue. Forklift collisions with a racking structure are common in warehouses, so this means that careful attention should be paid with navigating a forklift in and out of aisles and between racks. It is recommended by the Australian Standards AS4084-2012 that your warehouse racking should be inspected annually.
2. Manual Handling
All warehouse staff will need training on the correct and safe way to use manual handling equipment. If the equipment isn’t used correctly or in an unsafe manner is can cause injury or in some cases death. Where it is practically possible forklifts and other lifting applications should be used in replacement of the manual handling equipment.
3. Lack of Education
Often warehouse training to staff is overlooked or skipped to save time and money. It’s important to be aware that this can cost the business more in the long run if an accident or injury did occur. Any untrained staff is a serious hazard to not only themselves but the others within the warehouse. Without the correct training, a warehouse cannot perform at its max potential and may not be able to run as smoothly as possible. Within your warehouse, all staff should know the role they play in safety. The safety within your warehouse should always be a concern and safety briefings should be regular.
A fire hazard is one of the most overlooked dangers within a warehouse. A fire can have a devastating effect on your business if one started in your warehouse. Although a potential danger there is preventative measures that can be taken to avoid the risk of a fire outbreak, they include:
- obtaining a building permit,
- have the building exits clearly marked out,
- fire extinguishers in accessible places,
- avoiding leaving exposed wires out
- and correctly storing flammable liquid
5. Falling Objects
There are always objects that are stacked within a warehouse, whether it be on the ground or off. This then creates the potential OH&S danger of a falling object. To avoid a serious injury ensure that all heavy loads are stacked neatly so that they are not likely to shift. Any objects that are a cylindrical shape are best to be stacked the correct way up to avoid them rolling around.
6. Harmful Substances
This may not be applicable to all warehouses, although it is a serious OH&S issue. It’s a serious concern if your business is storing asbestos or any other harmful material that its corrected stored. Any flammable, corrosive or explosive goods can be stored in the correct dangerous goods cabinets. If any employee member raises a concern about a potentially harmful material it is best to get it inspected by a third party. It is the managers and directors role to ensure that all staff is safe within the workplace.
7. Heavy Equipment
There is heavy equipment present in the majority of the warehouses, a common one is a forklift. It’s very easy for the drivers of the heavy equipment to get used to using it and get extremely comfortable using the equipment. Although this may seem like it’s increasing the productivity within your warehouse, it could also mean that the dangers of these machines go forgotten. It is the role of the business owner or operations manager to ensure that all staff working within the warehouse are aware of the potential dangers. All staff needs to be extremely careful and cautious when controlling the heavy equipment.
8. Working at a Height
Did you know that every year in Australia 29 workers dies because of falling from a height? All warehouse employees should be aware of the potential fall areas. Staff will have to be trained to spot the potential falling areas and the warehouse will need to be regularly checked. In order to avoid any catastrophe involving a fall ensure that the correctly sized PPE gear is available for the warehouse staff to use and regularly inspect this gear and remove any that are damaged. In some cases, the best option may be to implement fall protection equipment this could be a platform that has a standard railing or a swing gate in front of a fixed ladder.
Ergonomics is the process of designing and arranging a workspace, product or system so that it fits with the person who is using it. Within a warehouse, all workstations and packing or picking benches should take into account all staff requirements. It is a responsibility of the company to constantly update employees with the correct procedures of doing things so there are no unnecessary injuries.
10. Slips and Trips
A slip or trip in a warehouse is one of the most common OH&S issues, it happens a lot and can go unreported. In order to prevent a slip or trip a lot of things need to be kept in mind when checking through the warehouse for the potential slipping hazards.
The main causes of a slip or trip within a warehouse include:
- poor housekeeping,
- inadequate lighting,
- cables and wires,
- wet floors,
- unsuitable floor coverings,
- and unnecessary bumps and steps.