With 2014, on it’s way out, lets take a moment to reflect on the issue of safety in the workplace.
With the plethora of safety news, equipment, and rules, most warehouses are safe places to work. But accidents still occur, some of them fatal. In cases where the employer is guilty, it’s shocking to find that the law isn’t always on the side of the victim.
In the 2010 guideline for settling fines for fatalities prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act, the penalty is £100,000. This may seem to be a generous sum, but there is a clause that allows judges to also set the sum substantially lower and many apply it. Is the price of a human life something we should be bargaining about? Are your contractors worth little more than fish in the market stall to you?
There will always be warehouse hazards in our factories and distribution centres.
The obvious hazards of machinery and moving vehicles are often spoken about, but what of the less common ones? This article highlights the ‘hidden’ warehouse issues that can lead to fatalities.
Let’s face it, over time all machinery and fittings WILL degrade and require a replacement.
Roller shutters and dock levellers are no different. Their propensity to cause accidents is increased if the installation was flawed from the beginning. An accident involving a roller shutter collapse is not a pretty sight to see; neither is a fall caused by the creep of the dock leveller. Ensure your doors and docks are installed by accredited professionals.
Falls from height are the third highest cause of fatal injury in the warehousing industry. Human bones are simply not meant to fall and hit concrete and be fine. Even at heights under 2m, falls can result in serious or fatal injury. Common incidences include falling through a skylight when repairing leaks; falling when climbing racking; falling when trying to install controls points on roofs. Protect your staff by having strict policies regarding climbing racking, provide harnesses when jobs are being done at height. Use the right equipment to reach out of the way parts of the roof.
Respiratory illnesses caused by warehouse or industrial jobs are notorious silent killers.
Take the constant inhalation of forklift exhaust fumes have been implicated in conditions from debilitating headaches, CVD to cancer. Asbestos-related diseases kill an average of 20 tradespeople every week, through its destructive effect on the lining of the lungs. Sadly, it can take decades before asbestos inhalation starts to show any effect, and by then, it’s too late to do anything about it.
A constant assessment of working conditions, a shift to using electric vehicles, ensuring that drivers switch off all engines when the lift truck isn’t running, opening of roller shutters to aid ventilation, will all help reduce exposure to these silent killers.
Here are some more obscure, but dangerous warehouse hazards your workers are exposed to:
- Extremes of temperature: The icy blasts of the past two months have led to an increase in cold stress, and triggering of latent conditions in susceptible people. Alleviate this with fans and extractors to control temperature.
- Fooling around with forklift trucks and picker trucks: From racing to carrying extra passengers, messing around on all machinery must be strictly prohibited.
- Falling objects: Carelessly offloading trucks and racking goods can expose staff to falling objects. Issuing the right PPE in those zones; enforcing correct controlled offloading procedures and having reporting mechanisms in place can help reduce the occurrence of injury.
Going into the new year, no firm wants to be saddled with a hefty fine or the loss of an esteemed colleague.
Your staff rely on you to protect them. Don’t focus on only the obvious warehouse hazards, there are many obscure ones that are just as dangerous. SRL Limited wishes you a happy Christmas holiday.