Why Do a Risk Assessment? It’s All About Reducing Liability

Risk management matrix chart with pen and organizer book

What is the point of doing a risk assessment? Do you actually need to do one? Our blog post explores this topic and explains what it’s all about.

The term risk assessment describes the process of carrying out checks to identify potential hazards and other risk factors that may result in harm. The purpose of a risk assessment is to evaluate these hazards and make appropriate arrangements to either negate or control potential injury or other consequences.

Risk assessments are commonly carried out in the workplace. At Storage Equipment Experts, we work with warehouses to secure racking and storage equipment and help put measures in place to satisfy the results of a risk assessment. Workplaces like warehouses aren’t the only places that should consider risk assessments, though. Events, public spaces, entertainment venues and schools are all good candidates for risk assessment processes.

Why Do a Risk Assessment?

Why do a risk assessment? Are they actually necessary?

Many people are aware of the often-dubbed ‘overprotective’ nanny state created by the policies of health and safety. As a result, it can be tempting just to ignore such methods of monitoring potential dangers, including risk assessments. In fact, the temptation is more real than you might think, with 65% of UK businesses regularly flouting the rules and guidance put in place by HSE (The Health and Safety Executive).

What could go wrong?

The process of conducting a risk assessment may seem unnecessary at times, especially at small workplaces or for low-key public events, but carrying out an evaluation of potential dangers is always a good idea.

Risk assessments allow you to:

  • Build Awareness of Hazards — If you don’t conduct a risk assessment, it can be difficult to know exactly what could go wrong. Yes, risks may be minimal, but no aspect of life is without risk. A quick read of the workplace deaths recorded by HSE is enough to prove that point. Without performing a risk assessment, you face a lack of preparedness to deal with the issues that cause such fatalities. Imagine there was an issue and somebody was injured — without a risk assessment, you’re risking not having the knowledge or resources to deal with the problem.
  • Identify Who is At Risk: Certain people may be more at risk than others, such as employees in specific roles, performers at a venue or visitors located in a specific area at an event. You don’t want to place a group of people at unnecessary risk, which is why analysing any potential problems — and having plans in place should they happen — is crucial.

With this information to hand, you are then capable of determining whether or not protection is needed. You may conduct a risk assessment and discover all is as it should be and that there are appropriate protective measures in place. However, if you carry out a risk assessment and find there aren’t, you can now take the steps you need to secure your building, warehouse, event or venue.

By carrying out assessments you’ll:

  • Improve the likelihood of preventing injuries, illness or death as a result of attendance to your event, workplace or venue;
  • Meet moral and ethical conventions by ensuring you are not putting people at unnecessary risk. Failing to meet these conventions can irreparably damage your reputation;
  • Meet legal requirements relating to both health and safety and duty of care.

At The End of the Day, It’s About Liability

Moral and ethical implications aside, performing a risk assessment is all about negating liability if a problem was to occur. In the event of disaster, for example, should somebody become injured at your event or place of work, you need to cover yourself against legal action.

Being found liable for health and safety breaches can result in severe consequences. Entities, such as businesses, found guilty of breaking health and safety laws — without having carried out an appropriate risk assessment — face fines in the region of tens of thousands.

What’s more, the individual responsible for managing adherence to health and safety laws, be it an HR rep, event planner or business owner, faces personal liability as well. This can include additional fines and even jail time.

So why do a risk assessment?

Risk assessments allow you to identify potential health and safety problems and take appropriate precautions. In doing so, you create a safer environment that drastically reduces the chance of something bad happening. If the worst were to occur, you have a certain level of protection as you followed the expected processes — providing you did so to a satisfactory standard.

Why do a risk assessment? Because it is a crucial step in ensuring your workplace or venue is safe. At Storage Equipment Experts, we are specialists in racking safety. If you operate a warehouse, contact us today to find out how we can ensure your premises meets health and safety standards, reducing the risk of injury on your property and providing you with essential protection in the case of a problem.

Warehouse Safety Ideas: 5 Steps to Reduce Risk

Construction Site Developing Industry Concept

Discover simple yet effective methods of reducing the risk to employees working in your warehouse, creating a more secure working environment.

A safe warehouse environment is paramount to your business’s survival. If proper safety procedures aren’t in place, accidents can become commonplace in the warehouse environment. The scale of the workforce involved, the machinery used, the extensive use of racking systems and the size of the structure, along with the often heavy items contained within it, all add up to a workplace that is inherently hazardous.

Health and safety problems that result in worker injury or death can destroy a business.

Across the globe, forklift operation regularly ends in injury or fatality — in America alone, 20,000 people are injured by the vehicles each year. Here in the UK, each of the top five most common causes of workplace fatalities has the potential to be caused by the warehouse environment. These are falling from a height, being struck by a moving object, getting hit by a moving vehicle, being trapped under collapsed equipment (such as racking) and death by workplace machinery.

Unfortunately, accidents are sometimes unavoidable. However, there are plenty of steps businesses can take to avoid health and safety breaches that result in legal liability, and live up to ethical codes that mean their workers are secure in their environment.

At Storage Equipment Experts, we are specialists in warehouse safety. We’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country and seen every kind of setup there is. With that knowledge in mind, here are our top five warehouse safety ideas to reduce the risk of accident or injury:

1. Create a Clear Movement System

Warehouses are notorious for containing big pieces of machinery, large crates, and rows and rows of shelving and racking. Navigating this environment can be tricky, especially without a clear line of sight. Such obstacles greatly increase the risk of collision between workers.

This kind of problem can be negated by creating a movement plan. Similar to a road or car park, create a structure of mobility that means you can only move in certain directions through certain areas of the warehouse. These could be one-way passages or the creation of lanes.

By creating a clear path of movement, you reduce the chance of collision by making sure everyone is moving in the same direction. Sign post this warehouse safety idea clearly. Make sure the layout is not only intuitive and easy to follow, but that there is always visible information available about what the flow of traffic is for those who aren’t familiar.

2. SEMA Approved Racking Inspections

Racking fills warehouses. Sometimes it can cover near every inch of available space.

Racking houses all your goods and is an essential piece of equipment workers will regularly come into contact with. It is also made of heavy materials and holds heavy objects, some of which can be found at a great height.

Unstable or damaged racking has the potential to cause serious injury or worse. The HSE — the British governing body of health and safety enforcement — recommends that qualified inspectors carry out racking reviews at least once a year. We are also strong advocates of this advice.

Ensuring your racking is secure can avoid a lot of preventable problems. Wear and tear, damage and poor initial construction can lead to weaknesses in racking, which in turn can lead to falls, collapse and instability, putting workers at risk.

Hire a SEMA approved racking inspector, such as us at Storage Equipment Experts, to make sure your warehouse racking is safe to use.

3. Eliminate All Clutter

Any unnecessary clutter has the potential to be a trip hazard, cause entanglement, result in somebody becoming trapped or cause injury due to falling objects. These are dangers that can easily be avoided by presenting workers with a strict policy on maintaining a clean and clear working environment.

Line of sight is essential to avoiding many warehouse problems, as is organisation. Create a strategy that ensures everything has an assigned place to be stored and that storage is done properly without creating a jumbled mess. A mountain of misaligned crates is a disaster waiting to happen. If there is no place for appropriate storage, allocate areas of the warehouse for objects to be placed — out of the way of usual activity — until a secure, permanent home can be found.

4. Employ Automation and Smart Tech

According to HSE, falls from height are the second highest cause of death in the workplace. This isn’t particularly surprising, since working from a height carries great risk. However, there are ways you can reduce the need for employees to carry out work at a height, and this starts with smart technology.

Drones are slowly being introduced to warehousing as automated tools for stock checking. The technology is programmed to check for items, locate packages and even transport them, if possible. This means your workers don’t have to reach high places to identify or move stock, as the work is carried out by machine.

There are other ways you can utilise smart tech for warehouse safety. Amazon recently patented a device which tracks hand movements and directs employees to the right place, helping them to avoid moving the wrong items or items they don’t have the equipment to hold. Tracking movements also allows you to monitor employees and ensure they are following safety regulations properly.

5. Educate Everyone on Warehouse Safety Ideas and Rules Regularly

Things change, workplaces evolve, new people arrive and people get complacent. Due to the adaptive nature of work and warehousing, a one-off training process in safety is not sufficient. Reminders and updates are required to keep workers on their toes and ensure they are following the correct procedure. Provide regular training sessions that refresh key skills and safety information. If new systems do come into place, make sure everyone is aware and up-to-date.

Time to up your warehouse safety? Contact Storage Equipment Experts today to discuss how we can support your safety needs. Our SEMA approved racking inspectors ensure your warehouse equipment meets the standards defined by HSE.

What Exactly is a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector and Why Do You Need One?

wholesale, logistic, people and export concept - man with clipboard in reflective safety vest at warehouse

Are you being told you should have your warehouse looked over by a SEMA approved racking inspector? This blog explains everything from who they are to why you need one.

Warehouses involved in the supply and demand business are often stacked to the rafters with racking, pallets and other storage equipment. Constructed using anything from wood to steel and holding products that range from bottled water to flammable goods, racking is a workhorse of the warehouse industry that should never be ignored.

Like all workhorses, the only way to keep operations running smoothly is through proper upkeep.

Your racking systems may seem perfectly adequate and secure, but there are numerous issues that may be affecting them — issues that could result in an unsafe or unstable warehouse environment. Problems with racking can endanger both workers and stock, which means appropriate maintenance is key. Racking inspections allow for the identification of potential problems and hazards including damage, material failure and incorrectly fitted elements.

With the information gained from these inspections, warehouse managers can then take steps to secure their goods, meet health and safety policy and ensure they are following laws relating to duty of care.

Who Are SEMA?

SEMA are an authority on racking inspections safety training. They are recognised across Europe as educators of the highest-quality racking inspectors — such as us here at Storage Equipment Experts.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK governing body responsible for the encouragement, monitoring and enforcement of health and safety practices, advises that warehouses are inspected by a SEMA approved racking inspector at least every 12 months.

What is a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector?

A SEMA approved racking inspector is an individual who has undertaken extensive training under an approved SEMA program. This program allows the person to offer racking inspection services that are up to a level deemed satisfactory by HSE.

There are numerous types of racking inspection available. However, if you were to consider them all as different levels of British educational institutions, SEMA would be the top university.

Such training qualifies the SEMA approved racking inspector as a recognisable authority in warehouse equipment inspections. As a result, those who operate warehouses that contain storage equipment should consider hiring the services of a SEMA approved racking inspector over others offering similar services. At Storage Equipment Experts, we offer SEMA approved racking inspections across the UK and Ireland.

But do you really need a SEMA approved racking inspector? Can’t you just check the racking yourself or have somebody else do it?

Why Do I Need a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector?

When it comes to workplace safety, satisfactory — or even second-best — is not good enough.

Racking may seem mundane, but as with everything, there are inherent dangers that come hand-in-hand with its use. The problems faced can vary from issues as small as tripping over loose equipment to major collapses that threaten lives. Those who operate workplaces have a duty of care to their employees and when racking is in use, this extends to ensuring your equipment is maintained to an appropriate standard as to avoid potential hazards.

SEMA approved racking inspections ensure your racking is checked to the highest possible standards, as dictated by HSE. This not only means a safe workplace for your employees, but it also adds a level of protection in the event of disaster.

There are no laws governing exactly how you should have your racking inspected, only that you need to provide a safe workplace for individuals under standard duty of care practice. However, by following HSE’s recommended practice of using a SEMA approved racking inspector, you have evidence — in the event of any health and safety concern — that your warehouse has acted under the guidance provided by the governing body.

Failure to use a SEMA approved inspected means that, if the worst was to happen, you don’t have that backup to protect your liability. While you haven’t broken any laws, by not using a SEMA approved inspector, you haven’t followed the recommended guidelines either, which reduces your ability to defend your culpability.

The recommendations may not be legislation, but they exist for a reason.

SEMA Approved Racking Inspectors Can Train Your Staff to Spot Problems

Annual inspections from a SEMA approved inspector are important, but it is also important to regularly monitor racking for signs of potential problems. If weaknesses develop or damage occurs six months into your yearly schedule, you’ll want people on your roster that can spot danger before it’s too late.

Identifying the warning signs early on means you can get a thorough inspection carried out before your employees, stock and brand are put at unnecessary and avoidable risk.

Our SEMA approved racking inspectors cannot offer your employees SEMA qualifications, but they can educate them on proper storage equipment safety processes, practices and threat identification. We can ensure employees are aware of a number of common problems, allowing them to act as an early warning system. If your staff know what to look out for and are able to engage in active workplace safety checks, your chances of experiencing a health and safety nightmare are severely reduced.

Are you in need of a SEMA approved racking inspector to carry out checks, or educate your staff on what to look out for and how to properly care for equipment? Storage Equipment Experts has years of industry experience and is fully qualified for the task. Get in touch today.

Basic Warehouse Safety Rules: How to Ensure Employee Compliance

Group portrait of industry workers

Are your employees ignoring basic warehouse safety rules? Follow our expert advice to ensure staff remain compliant at all times.

The term ‘health and safety’ has developed a bit of a stigma in recent years. Overcomplicated rules and regulations, seemingly inane workplace policies and other practices have led many to see the HSE — the UK’s governing body of health and safety management — as a bloated creation of unnecessary safety enforcement.

The result is that many people ignore the health and safety rules their workplaces have put in place. It is not uncommon to find employees disregarding company policy because they don’t respect the significance of the health and safety measures established.

Of course, there is no smoke without fire. Health and safety rules have taken some steps in the wrong direction in the past. A 2011 study outlined a number of ‘pointless’ EU laws that forced British businesses into costly and unnecessary risk avoidance strategies.

However, overzealous laws do not mean health and safety is completely without merit. Workplaces like warehouses carry a risk of injury and even death. Proper and appropriate health and safety is critical to avoiding such risks, which means employees must comply with company policy.

But in a world where health and safety is known for being mostly superfluous, how do you achieve this?

Encourage High-Priority Safety Culture

What does encouraging a safety culture mean? It means getting your employees to understand the importance of basic warehouse safety rules and why they are in place. Stressing the significance of your health and safety rules is imperative to workers actually understanding why they exist.

A strong way to do this is to show examples of potential injuries that can occur should health and safety rules not be followed. If you can find real-life circumstances and examples that illustrate your point, use them.

The aim is to cultivate a safety-conscious culture within your warehouse, where your staff not only respect the policies in place, but actively work to ensure they are followed. Encouraging employees to report breaches is another tactic you can employ. This means that not only will you find out if people are ignoring rules, but that workers will be more likely to follow them as there are more eyes observing their actions.

Avoid Unnecessary Safety Regulations

Part of making sure people respect and understand the importance of your basic warehouse safety rules is ensuring you’re not implementing unnecessary or pointless policies.

You must follow HSE law and duty of care when constructing workplace regulations. However, if you overstep the mark and go beyond what you have to do, you may find employees become less concerned with following certain rules.

If some rules are broken because they are deemed ridiculous, all rules are at risk of being ignored.

Create a dialogue with your staff about health and safety rules. Find out what they think about the regulations in place and work together to create policies that meet legal requirements, while also establishing regulations that employees feel are acceptable and legitimate. Involving your staff helps them engage more with the rules and ensures they place more significance on following them.

Conduct Regular Training

Part of compliance is knowing what you actually have to do, yet confusion at work is not uncommon. In fact, 50% of workers aren’t entirely sure of all their responsibilities. If employees aren’t even clear on what their job is, how can they be clear on all elements of health and safety?

Regular training works to accomplish two things:

  1. It refreshes workers on basic warehouse safety rules and ensures they are aware of exactly what is expected of them;
  2. It ensures they are aware of any new additions to your warehouse’s health and safety policy, such as changes in how to perform certain tasks.

Training means that all your workers know how to be compliant. If they know how to comply, they can’t break the rules by mistake.

Carry Out Spot-Checks

Training is important for compliance, but it’s important to know if your education platform is working.

Conduct spot-checks to find out. This involves not only randomly monitoring employees in the normal work environment, but also testing them. Ask your staff questions about how they would complete certain tasks that require basic warehouse safety rules to be followed.

Random spot-checks can lead to resentment if done improperly, so be sure to take an unbiased approach. This means monitoring and testing all individuals in the same way, no matter what position of authority they hold.

Ensure Consequence for Non-Compliance

Unless there is a health and safety breach as a result of negligence or non-compliance, there is no legal requirement that somebody face punishment as a consequence for ignoring health and safety.

That responsibility falls to the business.

Instigating a clear policy for non-compliance is an unfortunate but necessary task when it comes to combating disregard for health and safety rules. If your employees see no consequence for breaking rules, other than a slap on the wrist, then they’ll continue to do so. In continuing with such behaviour, they put others and themselves at serious risk.

Employees who do not comply with your basic warehouse safety rules must be disciplined accordingly, with punishments appropriate to the severity of the misconduct.

Reward Those Who Follow Basic Warehouse Safety Rules

Those who break the rules should be punished, but those who follow them shouldn’t be forgotten. Reward and incentive schemes are powerful tools for compliance and improving overall productivity. Staff who receive rewards for their efforts are, on average, 50% more engaged with their workplace than those who don’t, and are more motivated, too.

Engagement with basic warehouse safety rules is crucial to guaranteeing compliance. Having people motivated to comply is just a bonus. But how do you reward an employee for following the rules?

Every workplace will have their own unique reward system, as only you will know how to best incentivise your staff. However, here are a few tips. Reward those who:

  • Regularly pass spot-checks
  • Report safety issues without prompting
  • Are observed carrying out appropriate safety processes
  • Are reported to be following regulations properly by floor managers.

Warehouse staff need education in all types of safety procedures, including the use of racking and storage equipment. Our SEMA approved racking inspectors at Storage Equipment Experts can offer training on staying safe at work.