Warehouse Safety and Risk Assessment
The impact of COVID-19 on our working practices continues to grow, as the pandemic transforms the way we do business. With more emphasis on direct sales and online services, we need to look more carefully at how increased sales demands are affecting safety in our warehouses and distribution centres. An alteration in supply chain strategy has its effect on how the flow of products is dealt with. In some cases, warehouse owners are having to make considerable changes to allow for social distancing and other protective behaviours.
To this end, it’s a wise move for business owners to review existing health and safety procedures in light of the additional strategies demanded by COVID-19. Employers are legally required to protect their employees from harm, and the risk of viral infection has now risen high in the list of potential hazards. You need to think about several contributory factors that affect your safety precautions. These include fresh airflow in the working environment, hand-washing & disinfecting facilities, and provision of adequate PPE. The Health and Safety Executive’s guidelines for safety in the workplace have been updated to include these factors.
Risk assessment and COVID-19
As experts in workplace safety, WSS highly recommends that you carry out an additional risk assessment that will take these extra precautions into account. While the pandemic continues, employers also need to be prepared for future disruptions in supply chain management, and the potential impact this will have on your front-line operations. Many businesses are realigning their day-to-day activities to cope with the change in procedures, and manage the growing demand for online sales and distribution. At the same time, your workplace, and the remaining workforce, must be kept safe from the additional hazards of COVID-19.
Risk assessment is critical to ensuring that your employers are fully protected in the warehouse. Here, the existing hazards of moving machinery and busy loading bays are supplemented by new requirements. These include the need for employees to keep a safe distance while still being able to fulfil their essential functions. Your workforce and existing procedures must be fully evaluated so as to manage your risks. This will help to reduce the potential not only for injury caused by accidents, but also health incidents caused by viral infection. Not least in this assessment must be the increased risk posed by contact with customers, contractors and visitors.
Increased safety hazards
Factoring in the COVID-19 and social distancing requirements only adds to the safety hazards that already exist in your warehouse and loading bay areas. These can include poorly controlled delivery vehicles, and water leaking onto the floor of the warehouse or loading bay due to badly fitted canopy seals. Greater dispatch and delivery demands also mean an increase in traffic in these areas, including from external logistics companies. This may make it a wise decision for business owners to invest in enhanced safety measures, such as additional safety barriers for securing loading areas.
Protecting your workplace and your workforce is a duty of care owed by all employers – but it’s particularly important, during this time of change, to reassess your risks.