With 5% of the UK workforce being temp staff, your business is bound to have some working for you.
The reasons for using them range from covering for full-time staff on leave to simply providing extra support. At no time during the year is extra support more needed than at Christmas. Offline businesses need more customer-facing staff, and with reports quoting an increase of 7.5% in online sales this year, businesses need all the help they can get.
In the run up to peak period, the warehousing sector employs the second largest portion of temp staff in the UK.
And there lies a large portion of the problem. Many of them are ‘professional temps’; mostly untrained and are simply here due to their availability. Add to this the rush of peak with managers pushing to sort and deliver last minute shopping and next day deliveries. With managers pushing staff to work as fast as possible, your shop floor can suddenly become a safety hazard. With warehouse accidents rising at peak periods, protecting temp workers should be a KPI of employers.
Temp employees are more prone to get injured in their first 30 days on the job. This isn’t a comment on intelligence levels but there are five characteristics of temp staff regardless of industry.
1. Employers assume employees know more than they actually do. They rely on the use of common sense by the employee to see them through. Unfortunately, this premise has been proven wrong, time and time again. An example is a forklift driver who should ‘know’ the rules of the warehouse floor. Pedestrians walk on one side and FLTs are driven elsewhere. It should be common knowledge but it still needs to be pointed out.
Common sense isn’t common; point out the obvious, if you have to.
2. Temp staff are often afraid to ask questions for fear of being seen as unfit for the role. Sometimes age may be the reason; other times they think they have seen it all. Make it easier to ask questions by holding inductions in smaller groups. This makes them less embarrassed to ask for clarification.
Encourage discussion and questions at inductions.
3. A new work environment leads to unfamiliarity with the potential hazards and emergency tactics. New buildings means learning the position of fire exits and the correct procedure for emergency evacuations. Even if the employee has worked in a similar role before, the law says they must be shown the procedures again. Many take safety in the warehouse for granted, yet even a loading dock can be dangerous in wet or icy weather.
Familiarise all temp staff with potential hazards and emergency procedures.
4. Retailers like Amazon have popularised the next-day delivery option and some are even trialling a same-day delivery option. This means distribution centres are getting swamped with parcels. This also means there is less and less time to properly train new/temp staff. Induction times have shortened from two days to under an hour in some cases. More and more temps are rushed through what they need to be doing. While this simply isn’t acceptable in any industry, it can be downright dangerous in some.
Hold proper and thorough inductions for staff.
5. Year after year, there are horror stories of accidents that could have been avoided with the correct use of PPE. Yet, many still disregard it’s importance. Many think the use of PPE is overrated, yet something as ‘small’ as a splinter through the finger can seriously hurt someone. Wearing the right gloves would have prevented such an occurrence. One way of encouraging constant use of PPE is to involve employees in the selection process. They must also be trained on the importance and correct usage of the PPE. Follow up is vital to curb any possible accidents.
Insist on the possession of PPE on everyone who comes into the warehouse.
In itself, the warehouse isn’t a dangerous place, it simply contains potential hazards.
Between younger individuals being afraid to ask questions and older ones thinking they know it all, we are constantly exposed to possible injury. Through thorough induction and training, you can reduce the incidence of temp staff accidents in your warehouse.
SRL Limited urges you to combine these tips and our customto keep your temp staff safe.