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The Importance of Maintaining Warehouse Working Conditions

6 June 2018
 June 6, 2018

Big retailers and manufacturing firms across Britain will typically have multiple warehouses for holding and sorting their stock. In order to manage this on a large scale, industries employ staff to work within these warehouses. Depending on the industry the employee is working within, the type of warehouse will differ. Nonetheless, the day to day duties and long shift hours tend to remain congruent across most warehouse jobs.

Due to the manual nature of working in warehouses, employees are vulnerable to injury if precaution isn’t taken when carrying out tasks. Heavy lifting, forklift driving and working from height are all common causes for injuries within this type of workplace environment. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), around a quarter of the major injuries encountered at a workplace requiring hospitalisation happen due to an employee slipping or falling over objects obstructing their way.

If workplace health and safety isn’t taken seriously, employees can experience this type of injury at any time and place. However, in an environment with such a high levels of risk, set procedures and safety checks need to be implemented to ensure staff are not exposed to potential danger hazards.

In recent days, features in the press have underpinned the reality of unsafe warehouse conditions, with a high number of employees at risk. Hitting the headlines, a large UK online retailer have been accused of treating staff like ‘robots’. A freedom of information request from the GMB union showed ambulances had been called out 600 times to the company’s warehouse in the past three years. It was identified that these instances occurred due to a combination of employee injuries and staff becoming ill from over working in conditions below the standard.

One thing for sure, this case highlights the importance of workplace safety and how vital it is that employers take their staff’s well being seriously. With potential fines of up to £20 million for breaching health and safety legislation, failing to do so can be costly not just financially but particularly for large companies, the damage they can suffer to their reputation can be irreparable.

Workplace safety can be seen as a two-way process, not only do employees need to take extra precaution, organisations need to ensure working conditions meet the legal standards.  The HSE underpin the legal working requirements of a warehouse which are listed below:

  • Dimensions and space – Sufficient floor area should be available, a minimum space of 11 m3 per person is recommended.
  • Floors and traffic routes – These should be constructed and designed to withstand the use to which they may be subjected, e.g. physical damage from lift trucks and wheeled equipment or corrosion from chemical substances.
  • Workplace temperature – The temperature must be at least 16 degrees. For warehouses storing food and drink the temperature may have to be adapted.
  • Weather – Take reasonable steps to control employees exposure to weather – protect external doors from adverse conditions.
  • Working time Regulations 1998 – Regulations provide a limit of an average of 48 hours a week, although a worker can choose to work more if they want to. Limit each shift to 12 hours including over time. Encourage staff to take short, regular breaks throughout.

 

Ensuring warehouse conditions are up to standard is hugely important however, once implemented it is a good idea to provide staff with additional protection. Skyguard can offer employees various services that provide them with 24/7 backup in the event of an emergency.

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Sources:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg412.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/31/amazon-accused-of-treating-uk-warehouse-staff-like-robots?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other