Warehouse health and safety tips

Updated: Jun 21

20th July 2019 by Fiona Peake

In this article

  • Why health and safety in a warehouse environment is so important

  • What are the warehouse requirements in the UK?

  • Why is training so important for warehousing staff?

  • Fire safety

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Vehicle safety

  • Slips and Trips

  • Manual Handling

  • Packing

  • Are you up to date with healthy and safety procedures in the workplace?

Do you spend time in a warehouse as part of your job? If so then there’s a chance you could be putting yourself or your colleagues at risk.

Around the UK there are millions of employees working in unsafe conditions, with many having minimal knowledge around best practice and how to stay safe in a warehouse environment. However, with the trend in those interested in warehousing roles increasing steadily alongside the rise in e-commerce, it’s more important than ever to get up to speed with relevant health and safety regulations.

In 2011 The Health and Safety at Work act came into place, defining the fundamentals of safety and welfare in the workplace – and today we are going to be covering some of the key aspects of this act in accordance with warehouse work.

Did you know? Interestingly, the last report done into warehousing safety by the health and Safety Executive (HSE) was done in 2011, which revealed that there were 157 major injuries to warehouse workers in 2010/11. There have been no further HSE reports done on the warehousing industry since then.

If you’re unsure about the best way to move heavy goods, the legal training requirements you’re entitled to or what safety procedures to follow in the case of a fire – then we’re here to help! Our in-depth guide is here to provide you with all you need to know to stay safe in your warehousing role, and get your job done with confidence.

Why health and safety in a warehouse environment is so important Health and safety procedures are paramount in any workplace, but warehousing roles present specific risks that all workers should be aware of. First, it’s important to note that we understand how easy it can be to to let initial training fall to the wayside as you grow in confidence and find yourself in an everyday routine – this is normal in many jobs.

However, letting your guard down in a high-risk environment can not only put you in danger, but it can also expose your colleagues to the risks of the work place too. So, it certainly pays to be educated when it comes to warehouse health and safety.

What are the warehouse requirements in the UK?

Whether you are an employer or an employee, there are certain requirements that must be met within the warehousing industry. Below are some of the main legal requirements for employers in the UK warehousing industry:

  • Employers, supervisors and managers must provide employees with adequate and appropriate welfare facilities. These include appropriate toilet facilities, adequate rest breaks and somewhere safe to eat and drink.

  • Environmental requirements such as lighting, temperature, cleanliness, floor conditions, falls or falling objects, ventilation and transparent doors must all be addressed by an employer by law.

  • Best practice must be maintained by management to ensure employees feel listened to, valued and considered in work place decisions.

It is imperative that all aspects of health and safety training are covered by management. These include training in:

To give you a clear idea on everything you need to know, we will be covering each of these aspects in greater detail throughout this guide. But first, let’s take a quick look at the importance of regular and up to date training for staff in the warehousing industry.

Why is training so important for warehousing staff?

Warehousing logistics are complex, and typically this type of work environment never sleeps. For this reason alone, it can be a manic environment to be in, especially if you’re not up to date with recent training strategies.

There are a huge range of benefits to training warehousing staff, not least to improve efficiency, increase staff morale and offer job fulfilment, but also to equip staff with everything they need to stay safe at work.

As we have stated, warehouses pose a plethora of risks, from moving vehicles to high objects, there is the potential for all kinds of incidents to occur, and so it is vital that every person on the premises is equipped with the skills and knowledge to safely handle any workplace eventuality.

Fire safety

Due to the size and layout of most warehouses, the need for up to date and accurate fire safety training is absolutely paramount. Regular fire safety assessments and subsequent training is actually a workplace requirement regardless of the industry you’re in, but in the case of warehouses which have a number of hazards, it’s even more important that this is kept on top of.

Did you know?

In 2004 (England and Wales) fire and rescue services attended over 33,400 fires in non-domestic buildings. These fires killed 38 people and injured over 1,300.

Things that must be carried out by employers, supervisors or management include:

  • Appointing a person or persons to carry out any preventative or protective measures required by the Fire Safety Order.

  • Make all employees aware of the risks of fire in your particular premises.

  • Allocate appropriate people to carry out certain fire safety related roles.

  • Inform any visitors (non-employees) of the risks of fire in your particular premises.

  • Must consider the presence of any dangerous substances and the risk this presents to relevant persons from fire.

  • Provide appropriate information and training to employees during normal working hours, about fire precautions in the workplace. This must first be done as soon as employment commences, and be updated regularly.

Some important fire safety measures which should be carried out in the workplace include:

  • Regular fire drills– offering regular (weekly) fire drills will help to enforce the fire safety procedure for all employees and will help to prepare the team in the case of a real-life fire.

  • Weekly fire alarm testing– testing your fire alarms once a week in accordance with fire alarm regulations ensures your fire alarms are fully operational at all times.

  • Emergency lighting – Emergency lighting and exit signs are vital parts of a thorough fire safety procedure, and in the case of warehousing where there can be many hazards and obstacles this is a crucial aspect of the overall health and safety of employees.

  • Fire evacuation plans and wardens – it is important to ensure a plan has been put in place by management and has been effectively communicated to all relevant employees as to what to do in the case of a fire, and which individuals will be on hand to act as fire wardens in these scenarios.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Effective and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is often required as part of a larger health and safety strategy within a warehouse environment. It is important to ensure that you are wearing the appropriate attire to carry out your role, however this must be in conjunction with other measures in the case of your PPE failing.

It is a legal requirement here in the UK to supply all workers with appropriate PPE, and in a warehouse environment these can include:

  • Hard hats

  • High visibility jackets

  • Safety shoes

  • Eye protection

  • Hearing protection

  • Respiratory masks

Along with appropriate training in the appropriate PPE, regular risk assessments must also be carried out in the warehouse to ensure the right PPE is in place. Where new risks occur, old measures may need to be removes, and different PPE may need to be put into place.