warehouse safety guide

Manual Handling Essentials for Warehouse Operatives

Warehouse Safety for Heavy Goods Handlers

Despite the fact that warehouses are dangerous places to work, many seem to forget the manual handling essentials they need when it comes to health and safety. They fail to manage risk properly due to the fact that they take a ‘general’ approach when it comes to safety in the warehouse, which in turn, causes numerous specific unique health and safety hazards that need to be identified and properly managed in order to prevent harm.

In the past three years, there have been reports of over 600 UK-based Amazon workers alone that have been seriously injured or have narrowly avoided an accident. For this reason, we think it’s time to discuss the components of good warehouse safety, especially when it comes to using our specialist heavy and bulky item assistance products here at RollPallet UK.

Let’s get started.

Definition of Manual Handling

Manual handling refers to the transporting or supporting of a load. This can be done by either lifting, pushing, carrying, lowering, or any other means of bodily force.

warehouse packing

The ‘load’, can be a moveable object, small and light like an Amazon package or something more bulky like a jumbo roll container, milk pallet or furniture cage that can be pushed or pulled.

Manual Handling Injuries

The risks of manual handling do not only derive from the lifting and pulling of heavy loads. In fact, there are many injuries that result from repetition of a certain task, the distance a load is carried, picking a load from the floor or putting it up on a shelf that is higher than shoulder level.

workplace injury avoidance

Twisting, stretching, or bending may also raise health and safety concerns in the warehouse, not to mention the omnipresent threat of workplace falls and machinery-related accidents.

Taking the Necessary Steps to Mitigate Manual Handling Risks

Both employers and employees should take into account and adopt the manual handling essentials required in order to gain a hierarchy of health and safety control measures. To do this, the below risks of lifting must be considered.

warehouse risk mitigation

When lifting, always take into account:

  • Individual capability
  • Nature of the load
  • Environmental conditions
  • Training
  • Work organisation
  • Reduce the amount of twisting, stooping and reaching
  • Avoid lifting from floor level or above shoulder height, especially heavy loads
  • Adjust storage areas to minimise the need to carry out such movements
  • Consider how you can minimise carrying distances
  • Assess the weight to be carried and whether the worker can move the load safely or needs any help – maybe the load can be broken down to smaller, lighter components

Prioritise Safe Housekeeping Standards

Large and busy warehouses regularly see inventory items being moved in and out 24hrs a day. This leads to aisles and passageways that aren’t kept clear and an all-around messy environment that can lead warehouse operatives to slip, trip, or fall.

Slip, trips, and falls are the number one cause of injuries in UK warehouses. Fortunately, however, these injuries are fairly simple and inexpensive to prevent with a bit of forward planning.

warehouse maintenance

You can safeguard your environment by:

  • Having measures in place to quickly remove unwanted items. Make sure staff know to follow good housekeeping practices by quickly removing obstructions from paths, keeping cables tidied away, cleaning up spillages, etc.
  • Ensuring cleaning staff display appropriate warning signs. Try to schedule cleaning outside of normal working hours so that fewer people are put at risk. Also make sure that cleaners use the correct method and detergent for the type of warehouse floor.
  • Using anti-slip paint. This will reduce the slip quality of floor surfaces, prevent dust from building up, minimise wear and tear, and improve cleaning.
  • Ensuring stairs have non-slip material and sturdy guardrails. Anti-slip tape is useful for stairs and other areas where you can’t use anti-slip paint.
  • Using non-slip footwear.
  • Making sure floors are level. Uneven flooring can cause team members to lose their footing, especially if carrying a load.

An important addition to these points is that premises lighting should be bright and positioned throughout your warehouse.

Warehouse safety signs should be clear; illuminated if possible, and easy to understand for everyone who sees them.

Storage Safety Measures

Warehouse operatives also need to focus on storing materials. Improper storage of materials poses a severe risk, especially when they’re stacked high. This makes falling objects a constant hazard.

storage safety

To reduce the risk, check out the warehouse safety tips below:

  • Heavier loads should only be stacked on lower or middle shelves.
  • Loads should be evenly placed and properly positioned.
  • Stack items as neatly as possible so that loads don’t shift.
  • Remind workers to always remove one load at a time and to never over-reach when placing or retrieving items. Staff should be trained to work at height safely. Ladder safety is essential, as misusing or using an unstable ladder can lead to serious injury or even death. Ladders should not be used for longer than 30 minutes.

Manual Handling Essentials for Roll Container Use

All of our supplied roll cages and container equipment here at RollPallet UK are commonly used for storage and distribution, they exist with the aim of reducing manual handling related injuries to warehouse operatives.

However, although they do make warehouse life easier, they can still pose a health and safety risk. Things like slopes, floor surface problems, warehouse operator visibility, loading and unloading, and correct lifting methods still need to be taken into account.

roll cage safety

Believe it or not, the movement and loading of roll cages lead to numerous injuries, most of which are related to manual handling. In fact, some companies even state that up to a third of their accidents are related to roll cages, and that injuries typically result from pushing and pulling; particularly on uneven flooring and slopes. They also report that feet and hands become trapped in the cages, and the tipping over of lorries throughout loading and unloading.

Manual Handling Essentials Include Roll Cage Training

Manual handling essentials require employers to feel compelled to carry out a usage-specific risk assessment and to ensure that their workforce receives the very best training possible before they begin to use roll cages.

The training received should be appropriate to their particular situation, and any day-to-day problems that they face. For instance, they should try not to generalise it and to specifically design it to best deal with the nature of the goods being transported, and the surroundings they’re being transported in.

Here’s a handy 6-step guide to manual handling that’s free to download and print for your warehouse safety team to follow or even stick on the wall to help remind and encourage staff to act safely within your premises:

Manual Handling for Warehouse Safety Guide

(Click here to download printable high-resolution PDF)

Of course, a poster alone isn’t going to make a huge difference without the correct fundamental training in place. We highly recommend on-site courses so that roll cage users are able to do their learning within the environment they are actually working in.

To help out, there are plenty of manual handling training courses out there that you can individually tailor to each specific need of roll cage warehouse operatives.

Some recommended third-party manual handling training resources include:

Each of these resources offer options for both remote e-learning and physical on-site training.

For the most part, in a standardised UK warehouse environment, our preference would always be the latter as, if you choose on-site training, your employees will be provided with a practical and interactive training method, and of course, warehouse safety peace of mind.

If it’s a particularly hazardous or risky environment in which you’re operating, we’d advise leveraging something a little more sophisticated such as VR training to help keep your team from harm’s way as they learn, but that’s a whole other topic for another day!

Talk to us about your Warehouse Safety Needs

Our team here at RollPallet UK have been providing logistical solutions to UK industry since 2003.

Our core objective is to help our clients within these industries stay compliant with health and safety requirements and successfully streamline their operations whilst staying efficient in the post-COVID, Post-Brexit reality in which we now find ourselves.

If you’d like some free advise on how best to make the most of our product range within your own specific workplace please get in touch for a chat today!


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