Case study

Planning and Maintaining a Safe Loading Bay

It is of prime concern for all employers to ensure that the day-to-day activities of the work place are safe for their workforce.

In an active warehouse, lots of areas need to be risk assessed to ensure that optimum safety protocols are in place. One aspect of warehouse work that can pose many risks is the loading and unloading of products. The large vehicles (which, by the nature of their size often have reduced visibility), along with the heavy loads, smaller vehicles such as forklifts, and moving lifts, can all pose risk of serious injury if misused. The loading bay is an area of the warehouse which must be strategically planned in order to avoid any risk of accident.

Who is in your Vehicle Loading Bay?

The only people in your vehicle loading bay should be people who are actively involved in the process; usually people carrying out the loading and unloading, though other individuals such as managers or inspectors may also need to be present. People not involved in the process should not be nearby and it should not be possible for employees or the general public to stumble in unaware that they are entering a dangerous area. The area must be clearly signposted with warnings, access to the area should be physically restricted and everyone involved in the loading and unloading process must be aware that others must not be entering the area. It may be necessary to paint markings on the ground clearly specifying where it is safe for pedestrians to walk.

If drivers are not involved in the unloading and loading, they should have a safe place to retire to while the loading or unloading is taking place.

Employees that are in your loading bay should be fully trained, qualified (where necessary) and in good health and strength to do the role that they are required to do.

Are All Vehicles and Equipment Fit For Purpose?

Usually during loading and unloading, specialist material handling equipment such as forklift trucks may be required. These must be regularly maintained and assessed as safe. The loading and unloading process must be planned and carried out by appropriately qualified people

It is a legal requirement that employers ensure that all work equipment is suitable for its purpose, in order to keep the people operating the equipment (and others in the vicinity) safe from harm.

Vehicle Position

The area used for loading and unloading must be carefully examined to ensure that it is safe. Pipes and overhead cables must be avoided.

The ground must be level and stable. Heavy vehicles and machinery need a solid, stable place to stop, where there is no risk of rolling or shifting. In addition, safe, effective and well maintained brakes much be applied. Some vehicles also have systems by which the vehicle can be further anchored to increase stability. Alternatively, loading bays may have facilities for preventing the vehicle from moving. It is vital that the vehicle does not start to move off while the loading or unloading is taking place.

Vehicle Load

Lorries and equipment must not be overloaded and loads must be spread evenly in order to avoid tipping, or breakages. All equipment should be clearly labelled with its weight bearing capacity. Loads must be carefully secured with specialist equipment and the operators should be trained in how to secure it safely.

Further Information

The information in this article is largely informed by the Health and Safety Executive Guidance on Vehicles in Work. The information above is not an exhaustive list of safety requirements. For more information on your legal responsibilities with regards to vehicles in the workplace, go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/index.htm

This article has mainly referred to: Health and Safety Executive. Section 6 (Un)loading Activities. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/checklist/section6.htm. [Accessed 23 May 2016].

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