Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a huge problem in the world of warehousing, and regular warehouse racking inspections and warehouse racking inspection training are the solution.
On October 20th, HSL (the Health and Safety Laboratory, the British government research group dedicated to finding solutions to workplace health and safety issues) will be running a course on how to prevent MSDs and other upper limb disorders (ULDs). They have good reason to do so. After all, MSDs are “the most common occupational illness in Britain affecting over 500,000 people a year”.
Half a million people is a lot — more than the entire population of Bristol — so it’s hardly surprising that the government wants to reduce that figure. One way to bring down MSDs is through regular warehouse racking inspections.
How Does Warehouse Work Cause MSDs?
According to HSE’s 2015 report of work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD), 44% of all work related injuries and illnesses are caused by WRMSDs. That is an enormous amount, so figuring out the leading causes of WRMSDs is vital.
In the report, HSE state that the three sectors with the highest rate of WRMSDs are agriculture, construction, and transport and storage. Agriculture and construction are two industries that use warehouses a lot, and transport and storage is an industry to which warehouses are absolutely essential — all of which goes to show that warehouse work is responsible for a lot of WRMSDs.
So what is it about warehouse work that is so dangerous?
In the same report, HSE state that leading cause of WRMSDs across all work sectors is lifting and carrying, which is the bulk of almost all work that goes on in warehouses.
Why is Lifting and Carrying So Dangerous?
Whenever you lift something, you run a small risk of damaging your bones and muscles. This risk can be more or less eliminated if lifting is done safely. The advice from the NHS is easy to follow and adopted by many workplaces: keep the load to the waist, don’t bend your back, don’t twist, etc.
However, in many workplaces, it is also evidently the case that this advice is not followed. When workers are under stress or are forced to rush their lifting, mistakes happen. We all know that one really badly performed lift can lead to serious injury. More common than that, though, is the fact that many of those bad lifts lead to serious illness over time.
How do Warehouse Racking Inspections Help?
Warehouse racking inspections condone the same philosophy that underpins safe lifting: slow down and be careful. When the two disciplines are combined, warehouses illnesses and injuries drop dramatically.
Properly inspected warehouses are places where objects of the proper weight are stored in the right place on level surfaces. Uneven surfaces or badly stored objects force workers to twist and jerk as they lift objects. Over time, this is what leads to MSDs.
A warehouse with properly inspected racking creates a flat, even surface for a worker to store an object. Workers storing objects on these shelves will find it easier to do so.
When warehouse racking inspection frequency is as high as it should be, the whole warehouse becomes an easier and tidier place to work. This tidiness isn’t just superficially nice; it’s the essence of good warehousing.
What Warehouse Racking Inspection Frequency do I Need to Ensure that my Warehouse is Safe?
A warehouse racking inspection from a racking inspection expert (such as a SEMA approved rack inspector) should happen at least once a year. Though, if your staff notice a problem with a racking system — either because lifting has been made more difficult or because of some other issue — then you should book yourself a warehouse racking inspection right away.
Better still, if your staff receive warehouse racking inspection training, they can inspect a warehouse themselves using a warehouse racking inspection checklist. HSE recommends that staff perform rack safety inspections themselves once every week using a green risk, amber risk, and red risk system. Giving them training on racking inspections helps them to identify these risks with accuracy and in good time. However, it should be stressed that rushing is never the answer; be it racking inspections or lifting, rushed work is what leads to mistakes.
At Storage Equipment Experts, we offer both the best warehouse racking inspection training and the best warehouse racking inspection checklist in the UK. Don’t just take our word for it, though: check out our racking inspection testimonials page to see why we’re the best.