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 all manner of fines and civil claims.

It can be difficult to find cheaper 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 bare the brunt of costly independent racking inspections. Though independent racking inspections are not strictly legally required, they would be recommended on an annual basis if you have a significant amount of racking. Alternatively, monthly visual checks on the condition of racking checking for knocks, deflection, overloading or poorly loaded stocked can be conducted in house. Ensuring stock is offloaded and damaged racking taken out of use pending repair or replacement promptly if required will enable your legal obligations to be met. Safety software such as Safety Cloud can manage monthly inspections conducted by managers, and these can be complimented by six-monthly audits by companies such as Southalls.

2. Consult on PPE, bulk buy and consider storage

When it comes to saving on health and safety, buying items like high vis vests and gloves in bulk can help. However, all purchases should be thoroughly reviewed beforehand to ensure compliance as PPE Regulations changed in April 2018. It is also important to consult with staff to ensure items are fully fit for purpose – this can be a particular issue for female workers and those workers who are at the edges of sizes. 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 willing to wear it.

A number of our warehousing clients have seen reductions in lost time accidents 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,” health and safety professional, John Southall, a director 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 screen would not require testing at all if double insulated or, if not, then testing only 5 yearly would be adequate providing they receive a visual inspection every 2-4 years.

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 or ongoing refresher 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 awareness, 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. By bringing on a qualified consultant, you can minimise your reputational damage, chance of prosecution or enforcement action and implement practical preventative measures to prevent a re-occurrence. The cost of management time eaten up in an accident investigation can be reduced if a suitably experienced and qualified consultant is brought in from the start.

HSE reports reveal that in 2015/16, UK businesses lost £5.3bn due to workplace injuries, and £9.7bn due to ill health. The regular review of accident and injury statistics in your warehouse is an invaluable way to build a picture of the effectiveness of your risk management and help you to make more informed decisions on how to spend your health and safety budget.

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 are not defined as lifting equipment under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and therefore they do not require a thorough examination.

Sometimes through examinations are duplicated by both an insurer and another service provider. Thereby unnecessary doubling of cost.

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. Provide accessible refuse bins

Simple, practical measures such as providing a sufficient number of bins for holding strapping, banding and lose packaging materials can prevent the common trip-related accidents and associated absence from work.

8. Don’t be fooled by Legionella

Occasionally we 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.

9. Asbestos overkill

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations requires duty holders (typically warehouse owners or occasionally the leaseholder) to assess and manage the risk of asbestos. Compliance is achieved through the undertaking of an asbestos survey and complemented by an 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 have in place.

10. 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 Southalls Safety Cloud manages this process efficiently through automatic email reminders when maintenance tasks are due.

Growth in warehouse and distribution centres has been matched by a corresponding 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. This e-guide takes you through the key areas to consider when devising a safety strategy and offers tips and advice on best practice. Get the inside track on best safety practice, download your copy now!

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