Managing Health & Safety

Warehousing is a complex industry that can expose workers to a multitude of risks so health and safety should be proactively managed just like any other part of the business.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to put in place appropriate health and safety arrangements. This means having an effective health and safety management system. The complexity of this system should reflect the organisation’s activities.

Steps to successful health and safety management include:

  • Identifying the key health and safety priorities within a business

  • Concentrating efforts on these priorities

  • Assessing the risks to employees and others

  • Eliminating risks where possible (where risks can’t be eliminated, they should be reduced to an acceptable level)

  • Using safe systems of work

  • Providing the workforce with adequate information and training

  • Involving the workforce and health and safety representatives in decision making on health and safety issues

  • Regularly reviewing performance.

Risk assessment

The first step in managing health and safety is to identify the priorities – ie to carry out a risk assessment. It is also important to consider additional hazards specific to a site that may also need attention.

Risk assessment is an important step in protecting your workers and your business, as well as complying with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter – the ones with the potential to cause real harm. You are legally required to assess the risk in your workplace so that you can put in place a plan to control them.

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what in your work could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. Workers and others have a right to be protected from harm caused by a failure to take reasonable control measures.

The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

When thinking about your risk assessment, remember:

  • A hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc

  • The risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

Risk assessment can be broken down into five steps:

Step 1 identify the hazards

Step 2 decide who might be harmed and how

Step 3 evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Step 4 record your findings and implement them

Step 5 review your risk assessment and update if necessary.

If you employ five or more people you must keep a record of the significant findings of your assessment. The record should be fit for purpose – paperwork is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Examples of risk assessments are published on the risk pages of HSE’s website; these help you identify what is expected in practice.

Many risks in a warehouse may already be well controlled, eg the correct industrial trucks may be used and the drivers correctly trained, but you should also consider other issues such as supervision, monitoring and maintenance.

Workers should be actively involved in the risk assessment process.

Investigating accidents and incidents

Investigating any accidents that occur will help you identify further actions that you need to take. The outcome of an investigation can also help with a review of risk assessments.

Sometimes it is obvious what action needs to be taken. Sometimes incidents can be complex and need to be more thoroughly investigated, eg by looking at systems of work.

Managing Safely with System Group

If you have any concerns or questions regarding managing safely, please feel free to get in touch with us. You can also book on to our next Managing Safely course, which details the responsibilities and requirements of a Manager and gives guidance and support on dealing with risk assessments and investigations.

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