Successful warehousing is all about maximising efficiency and productivity but those joint aims should never be achieved at the expense of safety.

Indeed, the need to ensure that operational processes and systems do not put workers in harm’s way has to be among the modern logistics executive’s foremost considerations and it’s something that can never be compromised in the relentless drive for ever faster throughput speeds and pick rates.

UKWA has always demanded that its members operate to the highest safety standards: indeed, all UKWA members undergo a thorough appraisal of their commitment to the wellbeing of their staff before being allowed to join the Association.

But, despite the best efforts of the majority of companies operating in the logistics sector, warehouses and distribution centres remain among the places of work where an employee is most likely to be injured during the course of his or her daily routine.

Indeed, it is sobering to consider that, according to the Fork Lift Truck Association, each year, 1300 people suffer life-changing injuries as a result of lift truck accidents, while figures released by the HSE in October 2018 report over 3.9 million days being lost in 2017/2018 due to non-fatal workplace injuries with an estimated cost to the UK economy of over £5.5 billion.

Forklifts are the most dangerous form of workplace transport and account for 25 per cent of workplace transport injuries, which is why UKWA offers a range of lift truck operator training courses that provide the theory and practical training to operate forklifts safely and efficiently.

Delivered in partnership with Mentor Training, the courses cover counterbalance, reach, pallet and pivot steer trucks and, on successful completion of the courses, delegates will have the skills and knowledge they need to follow best practice.

But while ensuring operators are trained to an adequate standard and regularly assessed is essential, good management and employee awareness is at the heart of workplace safety. After all, safety is a collective responsibility and each of us plays a significant role in ensuring everyone gets home safely at the end of a shift.

Equipping managers and employees with the skills and confidence to enable them to keep operations safe, is a vital part of limiting risk and improving productivity. The HSW Act requires supervisors to have enough training and knowledge to be able to recognise safe and unsafe practices, so managers must be routinely monitored and, where necessary, offered appropriate refresher training to ensure they continue operating safely. Part of that responsibility is the continued reminder to staff and site visitors of the dangers that surround them constantly.

Safety and profitability are inextricably linked: it is increasingly accepted as a fact that companies who take health and safety seriously are likely to be more operationally efficient than those who fail to consider the wellbeing of their workers.

Accident risk reduction is always at the top of UKWA’s agenda because by tackling safety challenges in warehousing and logistics companies can ensure that their facilities operate at maximum efficiency and, therefore, profitability.

Peter ward