The old adage is true, ‘prevention is better than cure’. With that in mind, it pays to plan ahead and think about the kinds of situations that can be avoided in the warehouse that could cost you time, money and sometimes even lives. We look at why adopting best practice is essential for the safety of your employees and for maintaining legal compliance, and how it can lead to the smooth running of your warehouse and ultimately improve your business.
Working best practice into your day-to-day processes
Easily integrated into your staff’s day-to-day routines, there are a number of good techniques and methods that can help your company maintain safety, efficiency and legal compliance, giving you more time to focus on the business itself. Good processes can be worked into the running of the warehouse in various ways, through training to highlight problems experienced in a particular store, team briefings to exchange good technique, and eliminating problems at the source, like replacing defective pallets before they enter the warehouse.
Integrating best practice around racking damage is one concrete way to ensure that maximum productivity and safety is achieved. Familiarise your operatives with the racking systems used and ensure they understand the difference between regular usage and real damage, in order to help them identify potentially dangerous situations early on. Damaged racking should be classified and treated as soon as possible with processes for repair being adopted and worked into daily routines. The important thing to remember is that any damage will result in a reduced safety factor of the structure. Deviations that exceed the indicated industry standard should result in the rack being immediately offloaded. Pay particular attention to damaged shims, base plates, beam end or splice connectors and rust.
You should also share reoccurring safety and damage issues with staff to help find solutions. For example, damage that often occurs with small parts storage can include shelf overloading and warehouse operatives climbing or standing on racking. Ensure this is eliminated with proper training. Drive-in racking brings the obvious potential for damage to bracing by vehicles. In places of repetitive damage, install rack protection. Proper guidelines for forklift truck traffic, maintaining good housekeeping and improving lighting can also help prevent damage to racking. All of which can form a part of your best practice.
Stay legally compliant and work regular inspections into your best practice
Regulatory compliance affects all industries today. In warehousing, particular attention needs to be paid to rack safety compliance. Rack safety inspections can form a central pillar of your processes ensuring that you not only remain legally compliant, but that you also work towards preventing accidents in the workplace. Under the ‘Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations’ of 1992 and the ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations’ (PUWER) of 1998, companies are legally bound to inspect their work equipment. Make sure you understand and implement the necessary requirements of these regulations.
Also remember that different levels of inspection are required under different circumstances. For example, upon initially finding damaged racking, a written report must be submitted to the person with responsibility for rack safety in your warehouse. Regular, preferably weekly, visual inspections should also be carried out and documented, with any damage that requires attention being quickly resolved. Expert inspections should take place at least once a year and should only be carried out by a competent agent, such as a Dexion-appointed distributor.
Ensure your inspectors have the right equipment for their inspection work but most importantly, ensure they have the right safety equipment. Above all, make inspection best practice part of regular team meetings, sharing ideas and advice on how to prevent situations that could lead to accidents.
Incorporating tried and tested practices into accident prevention
With businesses struggling in this uncertain economy, warehouse managers are increasingly relying on temporary and agency workers who sometimes have little or no prior experience of working in this environment. It is therefore vital that safety training becomes part of your overall process. Warehouses that can demonstrate a safe working environment will have a competitive edge when hiring the best staff, as well as running the most safe and efficient warehouses.
In 2010 alone nearly 1000 people were injured as a result of accidents in the warehouse and storage industry in the UK, a slight increase on the previous year. With palletised goods sometimes being stacked higher than the average two-storey building and often weighing several tonnes, it’s easy to see why integrating tried and tested methods on racking safety is essential. Should an accident occur, it is essential to have a process in place for immediately notifying authorities and reviewing the situation to ensure no similar accident could occur again.
When it comes to matters of personal health and safety, prevention is always better than cure. With back strains and injuries a common concern in warehousing, organisations can install shelving and storage solutions that allow access and retrieval of stock at a comfortable, ergonomic height. Products such as vertical storage machines or pallet pull out units, for example, are ideal for this as they are designed to present stock at an optimal height and allows stock to be reached without straining.
Integrating best practice brings many advantages: it keeps staff safe in the workplace, reduces downtime lost to accidents and faulty equipment, and eliminates the risk of fines for non-compliance. By gathering information from experts and industry leaders on what works and what does not work, and integrating that information into your business, companies in the warehouse sector can improve business operations, grow profitability and ultimately increase their competitive edge.
To have your warehouse, pallet racking or storage systems checked, contact one of the approved Dexion distributors who can inspect your site and make recommendations on repairs and improvements to prevent damage.