An inspection program carried out by WorkSafe Western Australia in the wholesale industry has highlighted "serious" concerns with the safety of racking.
The inspection program was carried out over the 2015/16 financial year in both metropolitan and regional areas.
It involved visits to 127 workplaces to look at a range of hazards faced by workers in the wholesale trade.
WorkSafe director Joe Attard says the wholesaling area involved a number of activities that were potentially hazardous and could result in serious injuries.
This led to inspectors issuing 206 improvement notices, two prohibition notices and 39 verbal directions, with the largest number of notices being issued in relation to pallet racking.
"The work activities in wholesaling that result in injuries most commonly involve muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects, and the occupation most at risk is store persons," Attard says.
"Many serious incidents have taken place that involved racking, and it is an area with which we already had concerns."
The three main areas concerning racking for which notices were issued were:
- Safe working loads not displayed – no provision of information on how much weight the supports are manufactured to hold;
- Racking not secured or bolted down – leading to the potential for racking to move or topple over if bumped by a forklift or other mobile plant; and
- Missing safety locking pins – no safeguard against the pallet racking supports being knocked out of place.
"It’s crucial that the wholesale industry understands the importance of ensuring the stability of racking in their workplaces and that racking is designed for easy access and use to minimise the risk of injury to workers," he says.
"This inspection program also resulted in a number of notices concerning hazardous substances, fire precautions, warning signs and guarding of machinery – all very important areas with risks that need to be assessed and minimised.
"The notices issued covered a wide range of issues, so we plan to monitor the wholesale industry closely in the future to ensure employers are making use of the information we have provided to make their workplaces safer.
"These proactive inspection programs are really all about providing employers with information on how to comply with workplace safety laws and helping them to identify risks to the safety and health of workers.
"We firmly believe that raising awareness with proactive inspection programs is the best way in which to lessen the risk of work-related injury and illness."