Safe Stacking and Storage – not an equipment operator's duty alone!
Space constraints force companies to utilize space to the best of their abilities. When they can't put things next to each other, going up in height is the only option left. But the person doing so must be aware of the risks associated with stacking goods and items. This can only be obtained by attending a training course at a quality institution.
To reduce labour intensity on employees, most companies have resorted to using machinery for stacking. Forklifts are just one example. The equipment certainly helps but cannot be operated by just anybody. Even though safe stacking and storage is a collective effort of all in the workplace, health and safety officials play a pivotal role in ensuring that a safe stacking is conducted in the workplace.
The health and safety official / health and safety representative, should verify whether a machinery driver has undergone adequate training with a recognisable institute before he is allowed to operate a machine. The health and safety official should further ensure that the forklift driver is in possession of a certificate of competency issued by a recognised training provider. This would ensure that the employed driver conducts his job effectively and safely by applying the basics for safe stacking.
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Employers should ensure drivers are sent to training if they are not skilled in the field. The training provider will drill and educate them on the importance of following stacking and storage procedure South Africa when stacking. Certain procedures are described in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 where, for example, the 'General Safety Regulations' says that stacking should be done on a level and sound base and articles should be stacked according to size and shape. When employees don't abide by these basics they could cause serious incidence when they make the grave mistake of stacking randomly, hence the need for competent training is required.
Safe stacking can also be ensured by, if necessary, having a trained personnel supervising or overlooking the process. The skilled supervisor should be a certified person with specific knowledge and experience in the type of work.
A stacking process can be done in safe and smooth manner only if the employer has provided the stacker not only with machinery but one which is in a good condition. A faulty forklift could seize working in the middle of an operation which could pose as a safety hazard. The importance of training is highlighted in almost every step of the stacking process as employers should ensure that they acquire the services of trained health and safety officials to inspect equipment regularly to ensure that a safe stacking takes place.
Fellow employees play a pivotal role in ensuring that a safe stacking is carried out in the workplace. Employers working in the vicinity of a forklift should work co-operatively with the equipment driver to avoid incidents from happening. Employees should be educated on the signals of the forklifts, like a horn and reversing siren, as a signal for them to be cautious or take action. If employees working adjacent to the forklift are unaware of the signals, they could be crushed by falling loads or by the forklift itself.
Stacking and Storage Risk Assessment
A Task Risk Assessment must be conducted, focussing on Stacking and Storage and Operating Lifting Equipment as task to mention only a few, once analysed each task must have Control Measures that must be implimented to ensure that people and equipment do not get hurt or damaged during operations.
Having said the above, it is clear that a safe stacking and storage activity requires many parties to be involved. This starts with the employer and ends with the forklift driver. Without proper training there is no safe and sound stacking.
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