Importance of Warehouse Safety

By their very nature most warehouses are buildings that can offer up a wide variety of safety issues, with many different jobs going on side by side, often using heavy or moving machinery, with an ever present risk of fire and accidents of different varieties. Such hazards mean that warehouses contribute to a large percentage of workplace accidents reported in the UK. In fact, government statistics for 2009/10 show that the storage, warehousing and road haulage industries reported over 8500 work related accidents. That, of course does not include many minor injuries not reported that can cause work absence and discontinuity in the workplace leading to loss of efficiency and productivity. All of this means that making the warehouse as safe as possible should be at the forefront of the minds of all relevant businesses.

Industrial roller doors are a fantastic addition to warehouse operations but can pose safety risks. It is imperative that there is adequate protocol and training given to everyone who could come to use or work near roller shutter doors. Many companies may opt to install high speed doors. There are many high speed doors available to suit all sorts of requirements. Such doors can help maintain a desired temperature, reduce loss of energy, keep dirt out of the warehouse and eliminate pests as well as reducing noise and improving logistics. Again, it is vital that proper training is given to those working in the vicinity of such doors. The best high speed doors will benefit from a knock out bottom rail system which that damage and cost would be minimized in the event that the door be struck by any vehicles.

As mentioned previously, fire is a major risk in warehouses and all types of industry, making fire safe doors a key addition to warehouses from a safety perspective. It is vital that all fire safe doors are clearly marked and there is clear and succinct information detailing how long they can withstand fire for.

The most commonly specified levels of fire resistance are:

FD30 – 30 minutes

FD60 – 60 minutes

FD90 – 90 minutes

FD120 – 120 minutes

It goes without saying that the better fire doors will provide the longest period of fire resistance.

Inside the warehouse there are often a great number of concurrent jobs of differing natures meaning that forklifts can operate alongside workers on feet, which presents a big safety risk. It is very important to have clear lanes marked out on the floor of the warehouse and protection barriers can be installed to make things much safer, clearly directing both pedestrians and drivers.

Many warehouse accidents and injuries are caused by the presence of unnecessary trip hazards due to an untidy warehouse floor. In addition, over-stacked insubstantial shelving units present danger of falling objects and injuries caused in this manner. This highlights the pressing need for all warehouses to have adequate shelving and racking as well as clear instructions as to how to leave things tidy and as risk free as possible.

Of course, keeping the warehouse safe is in part a question of kitting it out accordingly – there are, as we have seen, a number of important additions to warehouses of all types that can help reduce the risk of injury, but a large part is played by keeping employees well-trained and giving them enough time to complete their tasks in a safe manner, not rushing or cutting corners in order to fulfil impossible deadlines. This itself ties in with ensuring that the technical specifications of the warehouse and machinery therein are as optimized as possible, allowing for swift, safe operation.

John Hinds

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