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Unstable Storage Doesn’t Stack Up For Avoiding Accidents In the Warehouse.

17th December 2013
The recent terrible incident involving a large metal loading bay door, which fell and struck both the tour manager and a member of Cornish singing group, Fisherman's Friends, just prior to performing at a music venue in Surrey, once more highlights the all too frequent occurrence of accidents caused by objects falling from height.

Between 2011 and 2012, there were over 22,000 major injuries reported in the workplace, mostly caused by slips, trips, falls from height, manual lifting or carrying, and accounting for a significant number of all accident claims. Breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 all too often lead to five figure injury compensation paid to employees suffering serious injury from inadequately secured stock contents falling from height when accidentally moved by forklift or even manually,

Warehouses and storage depots, which are not sufficiently monitored, can quickly become hazard traps as excessively large, heavy or awkward items are stacked excessively high when free standing or stored with lack of attention to safety and risk assessment.

One recent example involved an experienced forklift truck operator, aged 61, who was killed by two bales of large textile remnants, each weighing more than 300kg, which fell from the top of a collapsing 16 foot high stacked column.

Lack of risk assessment meant that the textile bales had been stored unsafely in unstable vertical columns, rather than in tiered stacking. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found further failure to consider the risk to other employees using the warehouse, or effective measures put into place to control warehouse traffic.

According to the HSE, there was a history of collapsing bales due to incorrect stacking methods but rather than take the “simple and straightforward steps” to ensure stability of the bales and prevent a risk to others using the warehouse, no preventative action was taken.

Only after the tragic death of the forklift driver and the textile firm was fined a total of £115,839 including costs, for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, did the company finally adopt a different method to “improve the stability of the stacks, reduce the numbers and improve the control of pedestrians in the warehouse.”

Latest provisional HSE statistics for 2011/12 show that manufacturing industries suffered more than 30 fatalities and around 17,500 injuries, many of which, no doubt, could have been prevented by risk assessment and remedial action.