Dan Casey, from Penny Hydraulics, discusses the essential safety protocols that employers and managers need to ensure are followed during warehouse work involving lifting equipment.
In a warehouse environment, lifting and moving goods is an essential everyday activity: that’s why mechanized lifting equipment — like winches, forklifts, and hydraulic cranes and lifts — is such an invaluable part of their daily operations.
While this equipment does make warehousing work much faster and more efficient, there are always risks associated with operating lifting equipment, too. To safeguard your employees on the job, you’ll need to take measures to lessen the risk of an accident, and ensure all operations comply with health and safety regulations.
In this article I’ll discuss the necessary precautions that all warehouse operatives should follow, and how employers can make sure these are enforced.
Keep lifting areas clear
All employees should know how to keep themselves safe when lifting equipment is in operation, even if they aren’t the ones operating it themselves. So, you’ll need to ensure your employees are fully aware of where they should and shouldn’t stand during lifting operations, and make sure that those in charge of the machinery know what to do if someone enters the lifting area during work.
In a busy warehouse with lots of staff, keeping lifting areas clear might sound easier said than done. But, keeping these areas clear and ensuring that employees don’t walk directly underneath suspended loads is simply the most effective way to reduce the chances of an accident, so it’s important to enforce this precaution.
Carry out thorough checks on all equipment
To comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (1998), all lifting equipment must undergo routine checks to discover and repair any faults before they escalate. To keep your equipment in the best possible condition and make sure your employees are safe, you’ll need to ensure:
- That the equipment is suitable for the intended task, and any weight or load limits are not exceeded.
- Your lifting equipment undergoes a basic check before each session of use.
- Your equipment receives a thorough check and service at least every 3–6 months.
- Your paperwork is up to date, including any maintenance logs and a report of your thorough examination (you can learn more about this on the HSE)
Refresh your employee training regularly
Everyone should undertake regular safety training, regardless of whether or not they’ll be directly involved with lifting operations. So, whenever a new piece of machinery is introduced, make sure that every member of staff receives training on:
- The potentials hazards associated with this type of equipment.
- What they need to do to stay safe during operation (even if they won’t be operating it themselves)
- How to spot any potential hazards, and how to respond if they notice anything.
Remember, it’s not enough to provide training once: you should also provide regular refresher sessions, too. This will help to keep your staff up-to-date with any new regulations and will help to stop people from getting complacent.
Ensure lifting activity is properly planned and supervised
The final point we’ll discuss is perhaps the most important: making sure than all lifting activities are carried out in a safe manner to reduce the risk of an accident. During any activity involving the operation of lifting equipment, you’ll need to ensure that:
- All lifting activities are planned out and organized with care.
- Machinery is only ever operated by competent employees who have received adequate training.
- All lifting is supervised by an appropriate person who is qualified to oversee the process.
- All lifting activities are carried out in a safe manner that minimizes risks.
As long as you adhere to these basic principles, then the risk of an accident happening should be greatly reduced.
Lifting equipment can save time, increase productivity, and allows for much easier handling of stock, but it should always be used with care. To reduce the risk of an accident, it’s vital that you follow the precautions I’ve listed above: as long as you do, you stand the best possible chance of keeping your staff safe on site.
About the Author
Dan Casey works for Penny Hydraulics, a UK-based manufacturer of lifting equipment. The business functions as a fully integrated company, covering everything from the design of its products to the after-sales support. Since being founded in 1978, it has grown to be the UK’s leading lorry-loader crane manufacturer, goods lift manufacturer, and lighting winch manufacturer. The company’s equipment has even been used on the premises of Buckingham Palace and the Guinness factory in Nigeria.