Times change, and so do the risks. However, securing warehouses is a central subject for all companies in the Transport & Logistics sector. The health and safety of workers depend directly on it. Explanations.
It is estimated that the probability of having an accident is 1.6 times higher in the Transport & Logistics sector, compared to the average for other sectors of activity. Each year, 25% of work accidents are caused by carrying heavy loads, 17% by falling from a height, 11% by loss of control of a machine or a handling tool, and 9% during ‘a slip or trip. As such, securing warehouses is a major issue for all logisticians. The first step is to conduct a precise audit to understand all the main types of risks to which your teams are exposed. In this article, we will deal with the most important, and which should give rise to a rapid reaction from companies.
Protecting people: what are the priorities?
The first objective of a logistician is to protect his teams. First of all, warehouse managers are responsible for carrying out a training program for all employees, at least once a year. It can be delivered in-house, or with the help of an external training company.
All areas of the warehouse must be subject to specific risk analysis: reception, storage, picking, packing, shipping area, etc. Each employee must have suitable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which is regularly renewed.
More specifically, forklift operators are subject to particular risks. When handling forklifts, they expose themselves to the risk of the machine falling and overturning to the side. They must take into account the braking distances of the truck, despite its low speed. They must also know the context of the evolution of other teams working in the warehouse.
The material handler handles, lifts, and moves materials by hand or using handling tools. He must be trained in technical handling techniques, beyond the traditional “straight back/knees bent”. He must also be trained to face the risk of collision with handling equipment, the risk of falls, slipping or crushing. The use of Ergoskeletons or exoskeletons is useful in preventing the risks of musculoskeletal disorders. The exoskeleton is a robotic framework that significantly increases the performance of an operator. Ergoskeletons are more passive solutions, presenting themselves as flexible harnesses.
Protecting places: what are the priorities?
Beyond people, certain areas of the warehouse are sometimes vectors of specific risks. The shelves are included. The majority of accidents are due to poorly secured shelving. As such, a careful inspection of each of them should be carried out at least once a year.
It is essential not to tolerate any storage that does not comply with the safety instructions. Again, the best solution is to provide specific training for all your employees. The misplaced or overloaded shelves are often the cause of falling objects, or a “domino effect” by dropping a large amount of other nearby objects. The fall of a badly stored object is sometimes enough to destabilize an entire shelving unit.
Shelving that is supported back to back must have a back wall made of wire mesh to block any mutual rolling of objects. The profiled rails are useful to limit the risk of falling. Finally, safety bins must be installed if you store liquid products of any kind (especially if they are flammable or dangerous liquids).
How to build clear safety rules for the handling of means of transport?
The second major risk factor is the use of means of transport within the warehouse. Each mode of transport must be subject to an annual technical inspection in order to prevent any failure. Each means of transport must be used only for the appropriate objects. For example, the transport of a box should never be carried out with a pallet truck. Only the use of a hand truck is tolerated.
To regulate the use of means of transport, it is a good idea to provide your teams with illustrated documentation, listing all the obligations and good practices to follow. The better the employees are trained and informed, the more the work takes place under satisfactory conditions of safety. The consequences of possible negligence can be at the origin of sometimes irreversible accidents at work, resulting in the temporary or permanent disability of an employee. In this context, securing warehouses must be a priority for all employers.