Warehouse Safety : Slips and Trips

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The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 place duties on employers to ensure that the workplace is safe and maintained in good order. Slips and trips are a key safety area covered in the HSE HSG76 Guide to Warehousing and Storage, and whilst the subject may not be as dramatic as a forklift truck collision, the statistics indicate that workers who slip or trip are sustaining serious injuries. Around a quarter of major injuries (broken bones, injuries requiring hospitalisation for more than 24 hours etc) in the warehousing industry are caused by workers slipping or tripping.

If your company has a warehousing facility you have a duty of care to put safety measures in place to prevent slips and trips, these fall into three main areas:

Planning and Maintaining your Space

Organise your facility with safety in mind so it is fit for purpose and well-maintained.

  • Provide good lighting
  • Keep your warehouse in a good state of repair - eliminate holes, cracks and uneven surfaces in floors inside buildings and work areas outside buildings...and do it promptly!
  • Check that goods have a place to be stored out of walkways – even when its busy.
  • Store goods safely so they don’t cause obstructions - loads should be placed evenly and properly positioned, heavier loads must be stacked on lower or middle shelves. Always remember to remove one load at a time.
  • Look at your logistics workflow to check goods and equipment aren’t being left in areas where people need to walk.
  • Identify your warehouse walkways and clearly mark their boundaries making sure they are free of obstructions such as pipes and electric cables.
  • Clearly mark obstacles that cannot be eliminated.
  • Pay particular attention to areas on or near stairs, steps, escalators and moving walkways, emergency routes, doorways, corners, junctions or gangways
  • Floors in and around warehouses should not be slippery, talk to a reputable floor manufacturer to understand different floor types and source a product suitable for your environment.
  • Non-slip strips on the nosings of steps can be used to reduce the risk of slipping. Secure them well.
  • Provide effective drainage in areas where it may get wet and ensure any drainage or channel covers are as flush as possible with the floor surface.
  • If you are dealing with potentially hazardous material, maintain appropriate protocols and ensure that such materials are stored safely and clearly marked so that there's little risk of spillage.

Good Housekeeping

A clean, tidy warehouse is a safer warehouse. Keep it clutter free and prioritise cleaning up spills before anything else.

  • Regular cleaning to remove contamination from floors helps reduce slip and trip accidents.
  • Materials that fall onto traffic routes should be cleared as soon as possible and spillages should be cleaned up immediately.
  • Always have staff available to clean up spills when contamination levels are at their worst.
  • Plan waste disposal to ensure waste items do not accumulate on the floor or walkways – even small items can present a risk.
  • Pay close attention to water, oil, cleaning products, dry powders, foodstuffs, polythene stretch wrapping and plastic bags which can all contaminate the floor and cause it to become more slippery.
  • Have systems in place for checking, reporting and dealing with leaks including checking goods for leaks on arrival.
  • To keep people out of an area which is wet from being cleaned, use barriers, clean during quiet times, or clean in sections so there is a dry path through the area. If it is not possible to clean the floor to dry, use barriers or warning signs to keep people off the wet area.
  • . .  . however be aware that warning signs and cones do not always stop people from walking on a wet floor. If the hazard is not visible, or if they are left out continuously, they will be ignored.
  • Stop outdoor contaminants getting indoors and onto floors that can become slippery when wet e.g. by providing entrance mats to dry wet feet.
  • In the winter months, make arrangements to minimise risks from snow and ice. This may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly outside walkways, yards or gantries.

Establish a Positive Safety Culture  

  • Communicate the dangers of slips and trips to avoid complacency and encourage safe working in your warehouse.
  • Arrange adequate supervision to ensure good practice, regularly inspect the warehouse to ensure that there are no trip hazards and feed back performance to staff.
  • Involve employees in analysing the risks and agreeing the control measures.
  • Provide training for employees, including temporary workers, on the key measures to prevent slip risks.
  • Give the training and resources to ensure staff are not rushing around, distracted or tired – this is when accidents can happen.
  • Ensure that suitable footwear is worn but remember this should only be considered as a last resort; try to eliminate the root of the problem first.
  • When selecting footwear, remember the importance of a good fit, a tread which makes good contact with the floor and doesn’t clog and a sole that works well with your floor surface. Also remember not all safety footwear is slip-resistant.
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