Health and Safety Best Practice in a Warehouse

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Everyone should have the basic right to go out to work and come home healthy and safe. It is the responsibility of business owners to ensure their workplace is as safe as possible. It is equally the responsibility of each person to take every step possible to keep themselves and others safe. Accidents do happen despite preventative measures and when they do there should be a plan in place to minimise further injuries or death.

The transport, postal and warehousing sector has one of the highest rates of workplace death and serious injuries in New Zealand. In 2015 four people died as a result of work in this sector. These four deaths were preventable.

On Monday 4 April 2016, the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) came into effect. For full details of the regulations and how they apply to all persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) refer to the PDF of the act available for download at www.legislation.govt.nz.

The act basically requires that all PCBU’s have a duty of care to ensure that their workplace does not pose a risk to the health and safety of employees or members of the public.

Potential hazards for workers in warehousing:
– unsafe practice with forklifts
– failing to stack products in a safe manner
– failure to use personal protective equipment provided
– not following proper procedures
– inadequate fire safety provisions and equipment
– repetitive motion injuries from long hours without breaks

No matter how prepared a workplace environment is or how aware and trained the employees are, accidents can and do happen. The aim is to reduce the incidence and the severity. There are several steps that an organisation can take to increase safety, reduce injury risk and enable a swift response to incidents in a warehouse environment. Simple and basic safety training combined with ongoing improvement and assessment of risks will go a long way towards reducing the incidence of injuries and also their severity.

For New Zealand specific information and guidance you can refer to www.business.govt.nz/worksafe.

When looking at your work environment consider these three questions:
1. Are your personnel equipped with the best personal protective equipment (PPE)?
2. Does your warehouse have first aid and emergency response kits?
3. Does your facility have an action plan?

Personal protective equipment should be the best available and not be somewhere you look to make budget cuts. Providing the equipment is just one step, employees need training to understand their role in correct use of the equipment provided. Should an accident occur the first aid kit needs to be capable of treating the injuries until professional help arrives. With the kits it is important to have several staff trained in emergency first aid. Indeed it would be ideal if all staff could attend regular first aid courses as you never know who will be first on the scene.

With many workplace injuries response time is so important to preventing severe injury and death. In the event of an incident there needs to be a procedure or action plan in place so each employee knows the ‘rules’. Following an incident an evaluation needs to assess what happened and strategies put in place to prevent a recurrence.

One of the biggest injury risks in warehouses can involve forklifts, so make sure your fleet is of a high standard and your employees are well trained and qualified users. At Stellar Machinery we have forklifts for sale as well as a range of second hand forklifts. Visit our website www.stellarmachinery.co.nz for images, information and contact details. If you do not require a forklift full time, consider hiring one, although our used forklifts for sale NZ wide are great value.

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