Like many work sites, warehouses can be dangerous places. There are numerous risks associated with working in such a location and below we set out some of the more common types of accident that are likely to take place. Clearly, in the event of such an accident, the victim is at risk of suffering personal injury, which, according to the particular circumstances of the accident, may be very severe.
- Falls from Height
Falls from height occur all too frequently in warehouses and can result in injuries of the utmost severity, depending on the height from which the worker fell. Falls in warehouses frequently occur when a worker is using a ladder to reach a high shelf or is working on an elevated loading bay. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to protect the employee from the harm that might be caused by a fall from height. This includes avoiding working at height if it is possible, carrying out a detailed risk assessment, providing the employee with adequate training and putting appropriate fall protection equipment in place.
- Forklift Truck Accidents
Forklift trucks are commonly used in warehouses to transport goods, materials and merchandise in and out of the building or around the warehouse itself. Like all moving vehicles, forklifts can be dangerous, requiring regular maintenance, servicing and, where necessary, repairs. It is also the responsibility of an employer to ensure that any worker who is operating a forklift truck is properly trained and familiarised with correct operating procedures if accidents are to be avoided.
- Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls are also frequent occurrences in warehouses. These can be caused by a variety of factors, including inadequately lit areas, loose materials, liquids that are spilt on the floor, and allowed to remain there without any hazard signs, and uneven floors, ridges and steps. Employers should ensure that floors are kept clean and free from obstruction, that the entire warehouse is properly lit and that, where necessary, anti-slip protection is applied to the floor. Any hazards should be clearly marked and/or fenced off until they are removed.
Due to the nature of the materials that are housed in many warehouses, fire is a frequent hazard. Fires can be caused by the storage of flammable substances, fluids, gas, loose wires and faulty electrics. Employers should carry out regular warehouse inspections to ensure that no such hazards exit. If any are identified they need to be drawn to the attention of the workforce and remedied as soon as possible.
- Crushing Accidents
Crushing injuries in warehouses are frequent and are sometimes so serious that they result in fatalities. Employers are under a duty to provide training to the workforce on how to use heavy plant and machinery. It is also essential to ensure that any heavy goods that may fall on a worker are properly secured. Finally, employers must provide the workforce with adequate protective headgear and footwear.
If warehouse accidents of the type described above are to be avoided, employers and employees need to be clear about the risks involved in this particular workplace, that the workforce is suitably trained and that they are provided with, and use, the correct protective equipment.