How to Improve Safety Awareness in the Workplace

Young warehouse workers working together.

Workplace safety should be a top priority for any business, and knowing how to improve safety awareness is one of the most effective ways to ensure the wellbeing of your employees.

No matter what industry you’re part of, health and safety is very much a primary concern of the modern business world. Every workplace has the potential for accidents to happen, but failing to improve awareness of safety risks will only increase the chance of an employee sustaining an injury or worse.

In this post, we’ll highlight a few of the ways you can make the workplace environment safer by improving the awareness of employees.

Invest Time and Effort into Training Employees

Improving the knowledge and training of employees is something that business owners should always be looking to do, especially when it concerns health and safety. This will not only give staff a more in-depth knowledge of the types of risks they could be exposed to, but it will also provide them with the necessary know-how to react accordingly if the worst should occur.

Training is especially vital in workplaces such as warehouses, where large, heavy objects are stored and machinery is used. At Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved inspectors can provide racking inspection training that helps to improve the overall safety of the workplace, as well as teach employees how to carry out a risk assessment.

Proper Signage

Signs play a significant role in increasing awareness, maintaining safety and creating a sense of order. When it comes to workplace safety, one of the most simple and efficient methods of raising awareness is implementing the correct signage. Whether it’s a cone for a wet floor, a sign to highlight trip hazards or a sign to warn employees about forklifts being used in the area, increasing awareness will decrease the likelihood of accidents happening, because employees will be more aware of their surroundings.

Another disadvantage of failing to implement proper signage is that it makes you liable if an employee is injured and takes legal action. If the proper warnings aren’t in place to raise awareness of the potential risks, you are putting your employees in danger and could suffer the consequences.

Declutter and Clean

A messy workplace doesn’t just look unprofessional — it could also prove to be dangerous for your employees. Cleaning up after yourself is something that most people will have been taught as a child, but it can be easy for clutter and general untidiness to build up at work, especially in hectic environments.

Fortunately, this is an issue that doesn’t require a great deal of time and effort to fix. Getting into the habit of regularly tidying the workplace and paying close attention to areas where there is more potential for accidents (walkways, shelves, areas with machinery, etc.) will get your employees into a routine and decrease the risk of injury.

Risk Assessments and Inspections

The best way to increase safety awareness and efficiency is by carrying out a risk assessment and inspection. These can be performed by our SEMA-approved inspectors, who will assess the environment and ensure that your workplace health and safety complies with HSE standards. We also offer one-day racking inspection training courses that provide you and your employees with essential warehouse safety knowledge and advice, so that you can keep your workplace safe.

Both risk assessments and inspections are highly beneficial for raising awareness, because they highlight the areas of your workplace that are causing issues and could potentially be dangerous. The keen eye of an expert and the knowledge they possess will massively improve workplace safety — even more so when combined with regular internal safety inspections.

Are you looking to improve safety awareness in the workplace? We can help! At Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved inspectors help business owners enhance workplace safety with thorough racking inspections and employee training courses. Get in touch today to find out how we can improve your workplace safety.

What Are the Repercussions of Ignoring Warehouse Risks?

dangerous accident in warehouse during work

If you discover that your warehouse safety isn’t up to scratch or that there are certain risks you could handle better, choosing to ignore them could have serious and potentially fatal repercussions.

Every business and workplace is different and, therefore, some are more dangerous than others. A warehouse is a place that demands awareness, training and risk assessments to ensure that everyone remains safe. With so many warehouse risks to consider, some business owners may opt to ignore them in an attempt to save time and money.

In this post, we’ll highlight a few of the ways ignoring warehouse risks could prove to be catastrophic and what you should be doing to tackle these risks.

Injuries and Fatalities

In the UK, hundreds of thousands of people injure themselves at work every year. In the warehousing sector, the most common injuries tend to be slips and trips, falls from a height, manual handling and being struck by objects. As a business owner, you have a duty of care to anyone who sets foot in your warehouse. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of an accident occurring, you’ll be failing your employees if you choose to ignore warehouse risks.

If an accident happens, the worst case scenario is the death of an employee. This is not only devastating on a personal level, but, if it occurs because of negligent behaviour, it will bring your company into disrepute and you’ll likely face legal action.

At Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved inspectors ensure that your workplace complies with health and safety requirements by carrying out thorough racking inspections. This will point out any current or potential warehouse risks and advise you on the best course of action to fix the problem.

You Could Face Legal Action

When it comes to risks and the potential for accidents, the warehousing sector is more vulnerable than most. It’s for this reason that you should do everything in your power to ensure that your employees are as safe as possible at all times. If an employee or anyone else is injured in your warehouse, they would be well within their rights to take you to court.

If it comes to light that you were aware of warehouse risks and chose to ignore them, didn’t provide employees with the necessary training or failed to carry out inspections or risk assessments, it’s safe to say you and your business could be in hot water. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may have to pay a substantial amount of compensation — this is especially the case if an employee is killed and their family believes you are responsible.

It Sends the Wrong Message to Employees

Deciding to ignore correct warehouse safety procedures is reckless, irresponsible and a sign of extremely poor leadership. It not only relays the message that ignoring health hazards is acceptable, but it also shows that you aren’t concerned about the wellbeing of your employees.

As a business owner and leader, you should ensure that your workplace is as safe as it can be. In a warehouse, there are risks — due to the storage of heavy objects and machinery, such as forklifts, being used — but with the correct precautions, such as inspections and training, you can create a much safer environment. Employees who feel safe and have faith in their leader will be much more comfortable and happy at work, and improved morale is a fantastic way to boost productivity and success.

Warehouse Safety Training and Inspections Are Vital

A vital aspect of any business is safety and, no matter if you work in a warehouse or an office, it’s something that should be a top priority. Here at Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved inspectors have an abundance of knowledge and experience that ensures that your warehouse’s safety isn’t undone by the risks presented by damaged or unsafe racking.

We also provide essential training to employees, which teaches the importance of professional racking inspections and how to perform a risk assessment. Our one-day course can be completed at one of our training centres or your workplace. Upon completion, you and your employees will have an enhanced awareness of warehouse safety and the knowledge to carry out internal racking inspections.

Warehouse risks pose a serious threat and are not something to be ignored. At Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved racking inspectors can ensure that your warehouse meets HSE standards. Get in touch today to find out how we can support your safety needs and concerns.

Why Warehouse Safety Is Essential for Small Businesses

smiling young worker in 3d warehouse background

 Good warehouse safety practices are vital for any company, but small businesses are particularly vulnerable if accident or injury should occur.

Thanks to advances in modern technology, most notable of which is the internet, businesses and organisations large and small now occupy a level playing field. While this makes it easier for companies to market themselves and make more sales through eCommerce, businesses are still vulnerable if they experience problems of a financial or legal nature — issues that could easily occur if proper warehouse safety isn’t maintained.

In this post, we’ll highlight why warehouse safety practices are essential for small businesses.

Poor Warehouse Safety Can Lead to Accidents

As a business owner, you should do everything in your power to ensure that your employees are safe at work. This can prove to be difficult in an environment such as a warehouse, but by implementing thorough inspections and training, you can massively decrease the likelihood of accidents happening.

Between 2016 and 2017, over 600,000 people were injured at work in the UK, 39,000 of whom worked in the transportation and storage sector. Accidents including slips and trips, manual handling incidents, and falling from a height are among the most common. These all have the potential to cause serious harm and even death. A death in the workplace is damaging for a company of any size, but, for small businesses especially, the impact it will have on your finances and reputation can be difficult to recover from.

At Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved inspectors carry out professional racking inspections to make sure your workplace complies with health and safety requirements and regulations. We also run one-day training courses that provide business owners and employees with vital warehouse safety knowledge and advice on keeping the workplace safe.

Damage to Products and Equipment is Costly

Small businesses who use warehouses to store their products could run into serious financial problems if they fail to maintain proper warehouse safety. For example, if your storage system fails or an employee accident causes damage to products because they aren’t properly stored, they could prove expensive to replace. This is a notable risk for small businesses, which tend to work with much lower budgets, leaving little to no room for error.

Likewise, if damage to products means that you have to delay or cancel orders, it will have a negative impact on your company’s reputation. In the business world, and especially for local businesses, reputation is everything. If customers lose faith in your brand, they won’t hesitate to purchase what they need from your rivals.

Legal Problems Can Spell the End for a Company

When a large organisation appears in the media because an employee has been injured at work, it will leave them with a red face for a while and will make a nice dent in their finances — due to compensation payouts — but, ultimately, you’ll find in time that they recover. An example of this is Amazon, which faced $28,000 fines at the end of last year, due to two employees being killed in its warehouses in the space of two months.

While industry-leading companies may be able to endure legal issues and fines, these types of problems could spell the end for a small business. If an employee slips, trips, falls from a height or has an accident while using machinery (such as a forklift) in your warehouse, the legal fallout could prove to be costly. A small business works on a tight budget and relies heavily on its reputation and taking note of warehouse risks could be a killing blow for what is otherwise a successful company.

Are you a small business owner with concerns about warehouse safety? Here at Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved racking inspectors will ensure that your warehouse equipment meets HSE standards. Get in touch today to find out how we can support your safety needs.

What Is the Purpose of a Risk Assessment?

risk assessment analysis concept on clipboard

The term ‘risk assessment’ is commonly used and it’s a vital aspect of modern health and safety. We live in an era where inefficient or negligent safety practices are no longer acceptable and will result in legal action. So what is the purpose of a risk assessment?

These days, there tends to be a lot of focus on marketing and technology when it comes to business, but health and safety is still very much a cornerstone of the business world. Good health and safety practices not only prevent injury in the workplace, but also prevent serious incidents from damaging the reputation of a company.

In this post, we’ll discuss the purpose of a risk assessment and why it’s something that no business owner can afford to ignore.

Why Do a Risk Assessment?

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and a crucial aspect of delivering that is ensuring safety in the workplace. The purpose of a risk assessment is to allow the employer to identify any potential risks and take necessary measures to keep their employees safe.

While the purpose of risk assessment is the prevention of occupational risks, some workplaces are more dangerous than others and it can be difficult to completely eliminate the possibility of an accident occurring. In terms of warehouse safety, there’s a lot to consider, including the storage of heavy objects, working at height, manual handling and much more. Therefore, a risk assessment becomes crucial for reducing and preventing injury — it can even save lives.

Provide Employees with Necessary Training

Another purpose of a risk assessment is to provide employees (and yourself) with the necessary training to ensure that they maintain adequate health and safety practices at all times. On the job training is one thing, but the insight and knowledge of a health and safety professional will open your eyes to all of the potential risks at your place of work.

Here at Storage Equipment Experts, our SEMA-approved inspectors carry out thorough racking inspections to make sure that you are complying with health and safety requirements. We also carry out one-day racking inspection courses — either at one of our training centres or at your workplace — which teach you everything you need to know about warehouse safety. Upon completion, you will have attained the vital knowledge needed to carry out your own internal inspections.

Prevent Damage to Equipment or Products

There’s no doubt that the primary goal of any employer or business is to protect workers from any potential hazards. But another crucial benefit of a risk assessment is that it helps to prevent damage to or loss of product due to insufficient storage or transportation.

This is especially important for companies who operate expensive machinery or store high-end goods, or small business owners who tend to work on a much tighter budget. Damage to products due to accidents in the workplace can be expensive to replace or lead to loss of business, if you have to wait for replacement goods. It could also make your customers lose faith in your company, damaging your reputation and leading to a reduced customer base.  

When it comes to warehouse safety, possessing the correct knowledge of racking systems, ancillary equipment — such as forklifts — storage equipment and different types of damage will give your workers the awareness needed to help them make their daily surroundings a much safer environment.

Are you concerned about workplace safety and think you would benefit from a risk assessment? Contact Storage Equipment Experts today to discuss how we can help. We provide racking inspections to make sure you remain compliant with workplace health and safety regulations.

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. Racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors

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 racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors 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.

Racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors 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.

3 Common Warehouse Hazards and How to Prevent Them

Warehouse workers after an accident in a warehouse

Without a rigorous approach to safety, warehouses can be dangerous places. So, here are the three common warehouse hazards and how to prevent them.

Warehouse hazards come in all forms. Some are completely avoidable by doing something simple, but not necessarily intuitive. Others are things that can’t be prevented and have to be managed or minimized instead. Some of the most common warehouse hazards are a mixture of both.

A thorough risk assessment will go a long way towards identifying and dealing with any potential workplace hazards. If you have a business with more than five people in it, you are legally required to do a risk assessment and record it. If you have less than five people in your business, HSE still recommends a risk assessment — but you don’t need to write anything down.

So, to give you a head start on your risk assessment, here are three common warehouse hazards to look out for and what you can do to stop them.

Warehouse hazard #1: A cold workplace

Winter is finally over, but spring isn’t exactly sweltering either. The UK and Ireland have been beset with abnormally cold weather, and it has led many to question how cold a workplace is allowed to be.

For most workplaces, the answer is 16 degree Celsius. However, for workplaces where staff are engaged in physical work, the answer is 13 degrees Celsius. Warehouse work likely qualifies as physical, but maintaining a 13 degree warehouse can be harder than you might think. Warehouses are big, open spaces which aren’t typically insulated very well. When it’s minus 13 degrees outside, you may struggle to get your warehouse’s temperature above freezing.

The cold weather is an example of a hazard that you can’t prevent, but the temperature of your warehouse is something which can modify with decent heating and installation. Beyond that, insist that your staff are wearing appropriate clothing and make sure that they are following your recommendations for staying warm.

Warehouse hazard #2: Slips, trips, and falls

Late last year, Poundstretcher was charged £1,000,000 — all because its messy warehouse put people in danger of slips, trips, and falls.

While slips, trips, and falls are perhaps better understood as three separate hazards, they all relate to the same thing: your floor. A slippery surface can often result in a slip, an untidy surface can often result in a trip, and an uneven surface or a heightened surface without protection can often result in a fall.

These types of hazards are common in warehouses because of the sheer amount of floorspace a warehouse tends to have. As such, it’s easier for some corners of your floor to go unnoticed. What’s more, untidy floors are a more common problem in warehouses — where badly stored items can quickly become trip hazards — than in other workplaces.

HSE has a guide on how to prevent slips, trips, and falls which refers to the legislation relevant to these hazards. In a worst case scenario, a slips, trip, or fall can be fatal, but they are not inevitable. They don’t “just happen”, and there is a lot that can be done to make sure that they don’t happen.

As with any other warehouse hazard, a risk assessment will help you identify and deal with potential slips, trips, or falls. However, a floor map is a specific tool HSE recommends you use which will help you to do a risk assessment specifically for your floor.

To prevent slips, simple things like entrance mattings — so that wetness from outside isn’t brought inside — can reduce slips. Spills needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible, but the way in which a floor is cleaned can also drastically affect how much grip it has. Also, bear in mind that some types of floor are inherently more slippery than others, so installing new flooring might be a necessity.

To prevent trips and falls, make sure that guardrails are put anywhere where a fall might happen and that manufacturer’s instructions for mezzanine flooring or elevated surfaces are clearly displayed. Don’t leave things in stairways, throughways, or aisles; storing things properly will help to prevent this.

Warehouse hazard #3: Misused racking

Racking misuse can be fatal. Overloading a storage system, ignoring a damaged system, and messily stacking items on top of each other are just some of the examples of racking misuse which can cause severe accidents.

You don’t have to look far to find examples of racking collapses making headline news. When this happens, the best case scenario is that the business loses thousands of pounds due to broken or damaged product and a warehouse in need of repair. The worst case scenario is injury or death.

In order to make sure racking isn’t misused, employers should insist that all employees follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to the letter. Load notices give explicit guidance on how a racking system should be used and what the maximum load for the system should be.

As for damaged racking, employers should be trained on how to inspect a racking system because damage or missing parts are not always obvious. Inspections when a system has been potentially damaged — or even if damage is suspected — is a legal requirement under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998.

Beyond that, HSE also recommends regular staff inspections and an inspection from a SEMA approved racking inspector once a year. For staff inspections, Storage Equipment Experts recommends and provides racking inspection training for employees and employers. We are happy to deliver this training at your workplace or at our training centre.

To book your racking inspection by SEMA Approved inspector or racking inspection training today, contact us for a FREE consultation.

What is a “Person Responsible for Racking Safety”?

Portrait of a smiling warehouse keeper at work

SEMA recommends that every employer with a storage system nominates a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS), but what does that mean?

In an ideal world, everyone would be the person responsible for racking safety. After all, safety should be the concern of every employee and every employer, not just a select few. However, on a practical level, a Person Responsible for Racking Safety is an official role laid out by HSE’s HSG76 and  SEMA’s Technical Bulletin 3.

Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS)

A Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) is a person nominated by an employer to take responsibility for ensuring that a racking system is “used, inspected and maintained in accordance with the appropriate regulations and guidelines”.

Does every business need a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS)?

Not every business needs a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS), and there are two reasons for this. The first is that not every business has a storage equipment system — such as a racking system in a storeroom or a warehouse. If you do have one, HSE and SEMA recommends that you nominate a PRRS.

However, there is no legal need to nominate a PRRS even if you have a storage equipment system. HSE does recommend one as an example of best practice, and following HSE’s advice will likely mean that you are following the CDM Regulations 2015 as well as the law in general. Though, there is an important difference between the guidance offered by HSE and the legislation which HSE often writes.

In other words, you don’t need a PRRS, and you are free to take other actions. Though, if the worst should happen and someone were injured or killed your workplace, you may well be asked to explain why you didn’t follow best practice advice from HSE and what advice you followed instead.

What does a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) do?

The PRRS (Person Responsible for Racking Safety) is the person or even a group of persons within the organisation that oversees all things relating to the safety of the racking systems. This would usually include the following:

  • Training of internal staff
  • Deciding and maintaining the frequency of internal inspections
  • Checking the findings of internal inspections
  • Checking the findings of the expert Inspection (recommended at least once every 12 months by a SEMA approved racking inspector)
  • Reviewing any “Red Risk” or repetitive damage
  • Organising and reviewing any remedial works to the racking.

Put another way, any workplace with a warehouse or racking system should have one or more people within the organisation who are able to review all actions relating to the safety of the racking system. This will allow that person — or those people — to make informed decisions where necessary to maintain the safety of the racking.

Who should I nominate as my Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS)?

The person you nominate as your Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) should be more than just “competent”. HSE’s guide on warehouse safety and the CDM Regulations 2015 strongly stress the importance of “competence” of staff, because every member of staff should be competent.

Your PRRS should be more than that. They should be a person who knows rack safety inside and out and who can inspect a racking system by themselves using a racking inspection checklist. It should be someone who has had rack inspection training for this task, who is able to identify each part of a rack system and who can tell whether a part is being misused, damaged, or missing.

In short, we wouldn’t recommend that anyone be nominated as a PRRS unless they have received racking inspection training from a SEMA approved racking inspector and unless they are using a racking inspection checklist.

Is a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) a racking inspection expert?

No, a PRRS does not count as racking inspection expert. This distinction is important to understand because HSE and the European Committee for Standardisation recommend an inspection at least every 12 months from a third-party racking inspection expert. HSE then labels a SEMA approved racking inspector as an example of this sort of expert.

A racking inspection expert is someone who specialises in inspecting racking systems as a job and has been trained by SEMA. Being a SEMA approved racking inspector is a full-time job in its own right, so your PRRS will not qualify as a racking inspection expert.

To make sure that your PRRS is ready to inspect your workplace or to receive a racking inspection by SEMA Approved inspector, contact Storage Equipment Experts today for a FREE consultation on both of these services.