The need to ensure safe social distancing in the loading environment continues to be a priority issue for logistics operations nationwide; however, in these current ‘safety focused’ times, it’s essential that loading operators remain vigilant regarding the legal safety requirements they must adhere to – as they place a fresh focus on implementing social distancing measures.
It’s been an extremely challenging time for the logistics industry, with unprecedented demand for loading operations to fulfil key worker duties and successfully deliver necessary supplies across the country.
When urgent situations suddenly arise, logistics operations must of course be prioritised, however the importance of ensuring that the loading equipment being used is legally safe must never be underestimated.
Lives can be lost when loading equipment is not legally compliant, creating an immeasurable cost to families; so it’s imperative that business owners - who hold accountability for supporting and safeguarding the operatives they employ, understand how best to facilitate staff safety.
At Thorworld Industries, we take the operational view that all equipment used in the loading bay environment should meet with the functional requirements of PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations); regulations whose principles place a duty and responsibility on companies and individuals who have control over work equipment.
PUWER regulations are there for good reason: By adhering to the legal procedural guidance, safety practice can be enhanced for loading bay staff and visitors, whilst diligently maintained equipment can perform more efficiently throughout its working life.
PUWER’s core purpose calls for equipment provided for use at work to be suitable for its intended use; ensuring it’s safe, maintained, correctly inspected and installed, and used only by people who have received essential operating information and training.
We support this objective entirely, agreeing that equipment provided within the loading environment must be bolstered with appropriate health and safety instructions and mechanisms, including emergency stop devices, energy isolation sources, visible markings and warning equipment.
Based on its keen industry insight, the guidance afforded by PUWER is both expert and enabling and provides relevance now more than ever, as in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, effective safety protocol plays a potentially life-saving part in delivering successful logistics.
In essence, ensuring that safe social distancing works alongside the use of correctly maintained loading equipment is the key, vital that operational equipment remains effectively inspected and maintained by individuals adhering to safe social distancing practice. Inspections should be carried out by competent individuals, a trained employee, or a specialist third-party engineer.
Also, it’s essential that the person inspecting has the necessary competence to perform the task and keeps an effective record of the ‘check-up’ and its results until the next inspection.
Third-party services, delivered as part of a maintenance contract or as a single inspection can ensure compliance with all the relevant regulations, and will confirm that equipment is being correctly used. Thorworld’s engineers work to all current, relevant regulations, under the auspices of FEM Guidance Documents, and also provide valuable operator training, delivered via classroom theory sessions, short examinations and practical sessions involving ‘hands on’ equipment use.
Whilst training is not a legal requirement, course completion is a highly effective way for employers to improve safety operations for their staff; helping companies avoid, even eliminate workplace accidents, and prove employee competence.
There’s a great deal for companies and individuals operating within the logistics sector to contend with at present, as all organisations involved adapt to ‘a new normal’. As ever though, safety on all levels must remain the industry priority, to help us all emerge from the COVID-19 period unharmed and protected.