Warehouse safety: barriers for effective protection

Choosing the right pedestrian barriers not only improves safety but also supports operational performance for warehouse operators looking to mitigate risk.

The sheer volume of people carrying out their responsibilities under one roof to shift and store goods and load and unload vehicles, places paramount importance on warehouse safety at all times, if incidents and accidents are to be avoided. Furthermore, it means that protecting people entering or exiting premises during shift changes is also an important consideration if serious harm or injury is to be avoided.

Every year, dozens of people who work in warehouses and logistics centres are injured, according to the Health and Safety Executive. These places are hazardous environments, where the risk of collision and impact is an ever-present concern – under UK law, employers must observe a duty of care to their workforce and identify the health and safety hotspots where they can deploy effective solutions to properly protect people.

A key part of best practice involving safety specification for new warehouses, or even updating existing ones, centres around the efficiency and sustainability of the property – operators and owners are ultimately looking for a property that runs as safely and efficiently as possible. The Health and Safety Executive’s HSG76 advises on a number of factors which have to be taken into account when planning the layout of a site so that ‘…pedestrians and vehicles can circulate safely. Where vehicles and pedestrians use the same traffic route, there should be adequate separation between them’.

Safe and efficient movement

This involves the installation of systems that are crucial to the safe and efficient movement of people, vehicles and machinery around the industrial workspace. HSG76 also recommends combining this clearly discernible safety signage with guardrails and pedestrian handrails used to create clear segregation and traffic routes.

Indeed, the use of pedestrian barriers and handrails is an area where gains in safety can be rapidly achieved in a relatively straightforward and cost-effective manner. There are systems available that can be installed in various locations and which are designed to accommodate all levels of activity in the industrial workplace. For example, there are barriers designed for zones where larger commercial vehicles operate while others are more suited to interior areas to segregate the workforce and forklift trucks, or protect people from sensitive or hazardous equipment.

When choosing a barrier system, it’s important to select products with performance characteristics that make them suitable for the required application. This might seem obvious but it’s not uncommon for some products to look good on paper only to disappoint in reality. Any responsible supplier should advise on performance requirements and best practice when specifying products.

Easy-to-assemble modular pedestrian safety barriers and guardrail systems can be used in an array of locations to improve external and internal safety in car park walkways, exits and entrances, uneven pathways and internal floors. They are also suitable in applications where there is multi-level flooring, work areas close to electrical equipment, incursion hazards, and places where people need to be steered away from machinery. Not only do these installations direct foot traffic along a pre-set route with a clear visual indicator of danger, but also provide a firm handhold to prevent people from tripping, slipping or falling.

Effective protection

To protect people and IT cabinets, or manage risks from walking on / off mezzanine floors, high visibility pedestrian safety barriers (SEG+) and accessories such as sprung return gates, can be deployed. These are also designed to provide protection in areas where industrial vehicles operate, guiding people safely around sites and preventing them from straying into the path of moving machinery or hazardous equipment.

Guardrails and Armco barriers can also form part of a comprehensive pedestrian safety solution. The former should be installed in areas where there is a high volume of off-road vehicle traffic and material handling equipment – they can prevent serious workplace accidents and in extreme cases, fatalities. Tough and highly visible Armco safety barriers considered to help keep drivers and pedestrians safe across the entire spectrum of the industrial workspace. Moreover, integrated polymer safety ends and corners are specifically designed to enable drivers of materials handling equipment, powered industrial truck operators and HGV vehicles to easily spot and navigate around barrier systems.

Tackling the issue of safety in the workplace is a paramount part of managing warehouse and logistics facilities properly – and it’s only going to increase in scope and importance as workspace becomes ever more of a premium in the UK’s rapidly expanding logistics and distribution sector. Simply put, there is always room for improvement and more effective risk management can only be good for business and the environment.

Part of IWS Group, Brandsafe specialises in bespoke designed impact protection systems and solutions for distribution centres, warehouses, and manufacturing and production facilities. The company’s product range combines the versatility and high visibility of polymer with the inherent strength and cost-effectiveness of steel. Its unparalleled project and consulting expertise offers an unrivalled solution for companies looking to put safety first. More about how to choose the right pedestrian safety system at https://www.brandsafeprotection.com/virtual-warehouse/

by Paul Roehricht, UK strategic account manager, Brandsafe

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