Saving time and money is imperative when you are operating in a competitive market. But it is not at all easy to combine cost-cutting with good health and safety practice. After all, overlook key health and safety requirements and you will find yourself vulnerable to fines and civil claims.
It can be difficult to find cost-effective health and safety solutions without compromising on safety but from over a decade of experience of providing safety advice to the warehouse and distribution sector, we’ve put together a few money-saving tips:
1. Conduct in-house racking inspections
Heavily dominated by rows and rows of racking, warehouses often bear the brunt of costly independent racking inspections. Annual independent racking inspections are not strictly required legally, and with the right degree of training and systems in place to demonstrate effective management of racking it can be undertaken by the business.
Monthly checks on the condition of racking, checking for deflection, overloading or poorly loaded stocked, can be conducted in-house. Ensuring stock is offloaded, and damaged racking is taken out of use pending repair or replacement promptly, will enable your obligations to be met. Safety software, such as Safety Cloud, can support monthly in-house inspections with access to e-learning training in racking safety.
2. Consult on PPE, bulk buy and consider storage
When it comes to saving on health and safety, buying items like high visibility vests, jackets and gloves in bulk can help. However, all purchases should be thoroughly reviewed beforehand to ensure they are suitable for their intended purpose. It is also important to consult with staff to ensure items are fully fit for purpose - this can be an issue for female workers for example. It goes without saying that poorly fitted items will either not be worn, can cause safety problems or even increase the risk of accidents. Furthermore, provision of lockers or a means of storage to reduce PPE exposure to dirt, wear and tear will prolong its life and increase the likelihood of workers being willing to wear it.
A number of warehousing clients working in partnership with Southalls have seen reductions in accidents and lost time through the provision of gloves to all warehouse operatives, reducing hand injuries through product handling.
3. Review your PAT frequency
Portable appliance testing (PAT) is an essential part of electrical safety for warehouses. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has estimated that employers are wasting more than £30m per annum on unnecessary testing.
“Many companies approach portable appliance testing (PAT) with a blanket approach of annual testing, paying a fee per item. However, it is a myth that portable appliance testing is a strict legal requirement or that it needs to be undertaken annually,” Darren Egerton, a Health & Safety Consultant at Southalls, explains. Items that are in heavy use or exposed to the elements e.g. portable hand tools may require 6 monthly portable appliance testing but office-based equipment, like desktop computers and VDU screens, would only require testing every 5 years providing they receive a regular visual inspection.
4. Implement E-learning training systems
E-learning training is a cost-effective and time-saving solution for staff safety training. Whether for day zero induction training, ongoing refresher or awareness training, Southalls e-learning on Safety Cloud ensures staff get up to speed on essential safety training, such as fire safety awareness and manual handling, without the time and expensive of face-to-face training providers. Further warehouse-specific training, including racking safety awareness, work at height, workplace transport and banksman training, can all be conducted through Safety Cloud.
5. Investigate accidents and review statistics
If an accident does occur, it is imperative that you can learn from it as quickly as possible. The cost of management time eaten up in an accident investigation can be reduced if a suitably experienced and qualified consultant is brought in to assist from the start.
Businesses can minimise the possibility of enforcement action or prosecution and be better placed to mitigate against insurance claims, and be given advice on practical preventative measures to prevent a re-occurrence. HSE reports reveal that in 2018/19, UK businesses lost £5.6bn due to workplace injuries, and £16.2bn due to ill health.
The regular review of accident and injury statistics in your warehouse is an invaluable way to assess the effectiveness of your risk management and help you to make more informed decisions on how to spend your health and safety budget. Safety Cloud allows the user to record accidents, attach supporting documentation and carry out a review of accident statistics.
6. Be examination savvy
Avoiding unnecessary examinations of lifting equipment is a quick way to save money, so every business-owner should understand which reviews are legally required, and which are not. Pallet trucks, for example, are not defined as lifting equipment under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and therefore they do not require a thorough examination.
Sometimes, thorough examinations are duplicated by both an insurer and another service provider, such as lift truck service providers. This can result in an unnecessary doubling of the costs involved.
Where pedestrian lifting cages are used with a forklift, nominating designated forklifts to be used with the lifting cage, that are then thoroughly examined six monthly, is more cost-effective than simply thoroughly examining all lift trucks on the site every six months. Remaining trucks can be thoroughly examined 12 monthly, thus saving the cost of an engineer needlessly examining forklift trucks.
7. Preventative maintenance
Maintaining forklift trucks and lorries at predetermined intervals of time or mileage and in accordance with manufacturers instructions, in addition to operator pre-use checks, saves money on callouts and reduces the subsequent downtime. Using a system like Safety Cloud manages this process efficiently, through automatic email reminders when maintenance tasks are due.
8. Provide accessible refuse bins
Simple, practical measures such as providing a sufficient number of bins for holding strapping, banding and loose packaging materials and encouraging a ‘clean as you go’ regime can prevent the common trip-related accidents and associated absence from work.
9. Don’t be fooled by Legionella
Occasionally, consultants come across warehouses paying for independent legionella water sampling, system cleaning or testing of water temperatures at taps on a rolling contract. If you operate on a basic mains fed, hot and cold water system with no water storage or showers, then this expenditure is completely unnecessary and can be managed in-house through simple checks undertaken by staff who have benefitted from legionella awareness e-learning on the Safety Cloud platform.
10. Asbestos overkill
The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations requires duty holders (warehouse owners or the leaseholder) to assess and manage the risk associated with any asbestos-containing materials present on site. Compliance is achieved through the undertaking of an asbestos survey and complemented by an all-important asbestos management plan. There is also no legal requirement to re-survey on an annual basis, only to review the survey and management plan you already have in place.
Southalls have the necessary expertise at hand to undertake asbestos surveys and complete management plans, with Safety Cloud then being used to store this information. Automatic e-mail reminders are sent when an in-house review is due to be undertaken.
The health and safety sentencing guidelines used by the Courts has seen a significant jump in fines for health and safety infringements. The potential for punitive fines makes the argument for establishing robust warehouse safety management all the more compelling for operators.