Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

Health and safety in the supply chain

For many years now, it has been widely acknowledged that any one action within any part of the supply chain can have a knock on effect, positively or negatively, further down the line.

Photo shows a cargo ship transporting goodsTo give an example, imagine a supplier changing the weights of their products, to make them bigger in order to transport more efficiently, reducing the individual units. Further down the line there would be an increased risk of manual handling injury to retailers and customers further down the line.

Precautions that need to be taken by suppliers

The main problem in the supply chain relates to manual handling but other health and safety hazards include:

  • Slips on wet flooring
  • Falls
  • Transport
  • Struck by something
  • Machinery

In order to address the health and safety hazards, it’s key to first determine the reasons these accidents are occurring and where in the line the problem is being created.

So, taking the example again of the manual handling problem; let’s assess where the problems could potentially occur and how they would be resolved.

Firstly, the supplier needs to assess if the product can be supplied in bulk bags, rather than drums etc. Are the supplied products in sacks, boxes, or whatever shipment container, supplied at a reasonable weight? If weights are greater than 25kg, then the customer on the other end needs to ensure that they have the means to move the product safely.

Retail customers

Problems can occur when customers place pressure on their suppliers’ requirements, processes and production.

For example:

  • Do changes in orders allow adequate time to consider revised risk assessments?
  • Is there adequate space, equipment and appropriate staff on hand to adequately accept delivery in a safe and controlled manner on the customers end?
  • Are all drivers equipped with knowledge of the processes for accidents out on the road?
  • Are all drivers delivery times and expectations realistic and achievable and mapped out in priority order?

Reducing injury

The key to reducing injury, increasing productivity and working within the guidelines is the responsibility of everyone within the supply chain. Only with close cooperation between suppliers, manufacturers and retailers can these goals be achieved.

Issues, such as the ones we have covered, will affect all parties within the supply chain and must be mapped out properly in order to minimise the negative impact on the people and the supply chain itself.

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