What HSE Thinks Your Warehouse Should Do About Cold and Flu
As the British winter rolls on, it’s worth asking what you can do about sniffly noses and sneezes at your warehouse.
Racking systems can be dangerous things to operate. They are huge metal structures that require expert installation, maintenance and inspection from a SEMA approved racking inspector. To work safely in a warehouse, you need to be at peak physical health, so what should you do if you are your staff are struck with the cold or flu?
Just as they do with rack safety inspections, HSE and the UK government have some actionable and practical advice about what you and your staff should do when cold and flu strike.
1. Use Common Sense
It’s strange when the government’s advice “to adopt a common sense approach”, but that is exactly its advice when it comes to the flu. As a result, most of what the government and HSE have to say about preventing cold and flu in the workplace will be things that a sensible person already knows to do. Even still, it’s worth reading up on it anyway.
2. Advise Sick Employees to Stay at Home
Don’t be a martyr and don’t be a hero. If your employees are feeling unwell, advise them to stay at home. If you are feeling unwell, you should stay at home, too. The NHS states that a cold can bring people down for seven days or more. Though the symptoms of the flu are much worse, it also usually goes within a week. If your staff need to take a week off because of a cold or the flu, the path of least resistance is to let them.
Losing that manpower might be detrimental to your warehouse in the short term but, in the long term, the cold or flu is less likely to spread. This will also save you time and money.
3. Leave the Rack Safety Inspections to Someone Else
Even if you feel like you’ve completely recovered from a cold or flu, it’s worth taking it easy when you come back into work. A key part of that would be to avoid heavy lifting, to start slow and to avoid any task where you need to be at your very best.
Rack safety inspections are exactly the sort of thing that, on your first day back, you should let another member of staff carry out. HSE’s stance on racking inspection frequency is that an expert rack safety inspection should be performed at least once a year by a SEMA approved racking inspector. Between these yearly inspections, there should be more regular pallet racking inspections by “technically competent” staff.
“Technically competent” usually refers to the amount of knowledge your staff has about racking inspections. To reach that level of competence, we would recommend rack safety inspection training. However, we would also recommend that staff who have been ill should not perform this sort of task. Research shows that, even after you’ve recovered from the physical effects of a cold or flu, your reaction time and other brain functions can remain impaired.
With that in mind, it’s worth giving more than one member of staff racking inspection training. In the UK, the exact frequency of internal rack safety inspections is left to the discretion of the PRRS (Person Responsible for Racking Safety). However, in Canada, the government recommends daily racking inspections from staff.
Whatever racking inspection frequency your PRRS decides on, it’s worth having several people (possibly even all of your staff) trained on racking safety inspections so that you are able to deal with days off from illnesses.