Accidents in the warehouse, one might assume from the regularity of cases heard in court and statements made on accident claims forms, are mainly caused by improper use of forklift trucks or lack of risk assessment when a job needs to be quickly carried out. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both that results in a major or fatal injury taking place.
While it is generally understood by all those whose daily duties are centred in the company warehouse that a safe and efficient working space is dependent on being kept clear, tidy and organised, there can be many instances where good practice can be overlooked.
Court cases tend to report major dramatic incidents where Health & Safety Executive inspectors are called to investigate companies where employers have neglected their legal duties. In these instances, dangerous machinery was failed to be maintained in good working order or safely guarded. Often staff were not fully trained to operate equipment and know how to respond correctly in emergency situations.
Yet, accident compensation reports and claim forms can be filled with equally hazardous conditions where simply the carrying or moving of materials on different floor levels and on different types of floor surfaces can result in the most common accidents of all, the slip, trip and fall.
Any items of packing material, such as shrink wrap, styrofoam chips, carton strapping, bubble wrap, packing tapes, tape guns, and broken pallet timbers can pile up or become strewn across the floor. In some industrial warehouses, there is the added risk of water, oil, or other liquid spills on the floor, which can cause someone to lose their balance and stumble over to suffer cuts, bruising, twisted ankles, etc.
At times of the day ( or night) as goods are constantly being loaded unloaded, consignments or materials set down temporarily in aisles or on the floor can also become tripping hazards. If stacked loosely or insecurely they can easily topple over and fall on an individual or suddenly create an obstruction in traffic aisles.
By not wearing gloves, for examples, it’s very easy to be severely injured by sharp corners, edges and the likelihood of catching splinters or loose nails.
Warehouse ‘pickers’ are constantly at risk of being struck by falling items that have not been carefully stacked on floors, shelves, and other surfaces. Noise vibration or simply the act of handling can mean a slip or fumble can displace awkward shaped items onto the head of passing warehouse staff.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, requires employers to ensure a duty of care to their workforce. So while awareness of the fatal risks of conveyors, forklift trucks, and hand trucks are all well known, equally, it can be a neglected untidy space and one small item that can cause a big upset, accident and injury.