PPE for Warehouse Workers: A Guide for Small Businesses
For growing SMEs, establishing a warehouse may become a key part of your growing business operations. If this is the case, there are many considerations you will have to make when setting up a warehouse, one of which is the health and safety of your employees who are working in this area.
As such, one of the main things to consider is providing suitable safety clothing and equipment to protect employees from any potential hazards in the warehouse, as well as budgeting for PPE.
What is PPE?
PPE, or ‘Personal Protective Equipment’, refers to the essential clothing and equipment that has the potential to ensure the safety of employees who work onsite or in a warehouse environment. Some common PPE for warehouse workers can include:
- Hard hats
- Hi vis jackets
- Safety goggles
- Warehouse safety boots, with a steel toe cap
- Safety gloves
These items can vary depending on the work environment, but once official warehouse safety rules are in place, even those who only access these areas infrequently would need to adhere to the specified PPE regulations.
Why can Warehouse PPE be so Important?
PPE is likely to be a key requirement written into most general warehouse safety rules as they have the potential to help to minimise levels of risk and ensure the health and safety of employees working onsite.
In most warehouses, risk assessments are carried out prior to any work commencing there, which detail any potential risks in the workplace and how employers can either prevent them or protect their employees.
Some of the risks to health and safety in a warehouse may include protection from:
- extreme weather
- falling materials landing on hands or feet
- flying particles making contact with eyes
- splashes of corrosive liquids on skin
- exposure to high-level noise
It may not be possible to fully prevent many of these potential hazards on construction sites or in warehouses, which is why PPE might be necessary to protect employees.
Where Can You Find PPE?
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 states that suitable PPE should be provided by employers, as well as adequate health and safety training wherever there is a risk. Any essential equipment should be on the premises and readily available, or with clear instructions about where it can be found.
It’s important to note that you cannot charge employees for PPE that is only used at work, so it’s an additional expense that an SME-owner setting up a warehouse should consider and take into account.
Safety Provisions for Your Warehouse
Every workplace has various potential hazards and risks, and a warehouse is no different. In Health and Safety Executive’s most recent publication of ‘Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety’, they revealed that the two main causes of accidents in warehouses were from slips and trips and manual handling. Luckily, these are two things that can be easily prevented.
You could consider putting the following provisions in place to ensure warehouse safety:
- Review your risk assessments regularly and update them if necessary
- Actively involve your workers in the risk assessment process for a clearer idea of the issues they might face
- Provide basic health and safety training so employees have adequate training in the hazards within the warehouse and the precautions to take. This includes training on manual handling, lifting and carrying and what PPE is required for each task
- Make spare items of PPE readily available for visitors and infrequent employees in the warehouse, as well as spares for your employees
The safety and integrity of your equipment is another important factor to consider. Well-maintained equipment is likely to last longer, ensure your day-to-day operations run smoothly, whilst also being safer for your employees.
Consider drawing up a maintenance plan so that your equipment is monitored and serviced correctly. Certain pieces of warehouse equipment will have an operational lifespan in which hydraulic filters or mechanical seals etc may have to be renewed to keep the equipment functioning properly.
It’s also beneficial to regularly check that all floors are free of slip and trip hazards, such as stray wires, liquids or cracks in the flooring. Think about setting up a cleaning routine so that the warehouse floors are clear at all times, rubbish is removed and storage areas are tidy – again, helping to prevent slips and trips. You could further minimise the risk by using non-slip paint on your warehouse floors.
If you’re looking for ways to minimise any potential risks in your workplace, follow our warehouse safety tips to help protect the health and safety of your employees. One of the main factors you could take into account is your PPE regulations and provision within your warehouse, which could be a main factor in helping your workplace remain accident-free and safe to work in.
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