chazWelcome to our Spring feature on The Warehouse. In these pages we look at a selection of the equipment and solutions on the market to help you get the best performance in this crucial part of your operation.

Managers of delivered wholesale operations and cash & carries are busy people, under pressure to generate the maximum returns. And their warehouses are expected to work to the maximum productivity. Sadly one chore all too often pushed to the  bottom of the to do list is to check the state of the warehouse, beginning with the floor and going up to the racking and shelving, with a good look at the fork lifts and pallet trucks.

You can’t afford not to focus on health and safety: every moment you invest in it is worthwhile. The costs of not doing so are enormous. The courts can dish out punitive fines to companies who have accidents on their premises that result in injuries. On top of that are the legal costs, and of course the cost of business interruption. And there’s the damage to your business’s reputation, which you can’t put a value on.

The checklist is pretty straightforward. What condition is the warehouse floor in? Are you keeping it clean? Are you maintaining it, with no bumps and cracks? Is it clearly marked showing the areas where forklifts move? What is the lighting like? Natural light is of course better in the lighter months, but as our eyesight deteriorates with age, older workers need more light to see indoors. What is the racking and shelving like? Are any sections overloaded? How often is the racking and shelving inspected by a qualified person?

And of course there are the forklifts and pallet trucks. These days they are technically superb, but they are also the most potentially dangerous items in your operation. They move rapidly from goods in to the racking, full or part-loaded with pallets, and can easily hit or injure pedestrians. So do you have ‘in your face’ signage inside and out so people can’t help but know forklifts are operating around them? When trucks are working in the racking, lifting loads, goods can fall off and land on the operator or pedestrians. Forklifts can also fall off docks and loading bays while loading and unloading lorries, injuring or even killing the operators,

You should inspect your trucks before each shift and maintain an inspection record. Keep a permanent log of all inspections. Make sure you comply with the HSE’s best practice guidelines. If you need help with all this, ask your forklift supplier.

It isn’t just your forklift operators, everyone involved in manual handling of goods needs to be properly trained. You need to keep records of the training, including refresher courses. This isn’t over the top, it’s the law. It’s good business practice – and it shows your staff you care.

You won’t sell any extra products if you do all this, but it will mean your warehouse and your staff give you their best performance this year and next year, and you can sleep at night knowing you’ve made your warehouse a safer place.

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