A guide to stores and warehousing compliance and safety
Many commercial and industrial business concerns are subject to audits and procedural checks as part of their operation.
Often, these audits are conducted by an external party – an organization contracting the operator’s services or a government or local authority.
Addressing a range of key factors can assist in meeting compliance with such external audits.
Stores and warehousing control
Regardless of size or complexity, management and appropriate storage of product is vital. All items should have a designated location within the store, which should be adequately marked. Storage of parts, components, and consumables should be in suitable boxing and should be clearly marked with identifiers such as standard part numbers to ensure items are not mixed accidentally.
Purchasing and re-stocking should be from approved sources and suppliers. You can find an example of a typical commercial supplier inventory here.
Any perishable items – or shelf life limited items – should have their individual ‘use by’ dates recorded in the inventory management program. This ensures that life expired items can be removed from shelves to prevent them from being used inadvertently.
A separate ‘quarantine’ section should be established so that items can be isolated from the working store area to prevent inadvertent use. An example might be an item that was received in error and needs to be returned to the supplier.
Storage and disposal of industrial waste and effluent
Setting and maintaining a sound waste management plan is vital. Storage areas need to be considered carefully, and separation of such stored waste items may also be a consideration to prevent situations like fire, accidental inhalation, leakage, or environmental contamination from occurring.
With storage established, a schedule of disposal for waste items must be considered. This may involve the commissioning of an external contractor for routine removal of items like waste oils and lubricants, tires, metal offcuts, and tailings or paper products.
Hazardous material – handling, storage and disposal
It would be hard to find a business operation that doesn’t use some type of hazardous item in their course of daily business activity. It could be a simple aerosol product, glue, or solvent. More complex manufacturing concerns will typically deal with a number of hazardous products. A sound management plan must be in place which addresses several key factors:
- The storage and handling of any hazardous items
- Disposal and waste management procedures for such items
- Emergency considerations including operator health and safety
The Hazardous Goods register
It may not be a mandatory requirement for all businesses, but any operation that uses or stores dangerous or hazardous goods should be using and maintaining a Hazardous Goods register.
All such items have safety information sheets known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). These are readily available via the internet, and in many cases, they are free to procure from an online source or from the supplier of the goods.
An MSDS should be kept for each hazardous item used, and these should be filed in a hard copy Hazardous Goods register, which should be readily accessible to all relevant staff members.
Safety equipment and signage
Ensure all hazards have permanent safety signage visible and affixed properly. This could include warnings of hazards, emergency exit signs, and health hazards such as excessive noise risk.
PPE, worker safety equipment, and First Aid kits should be checked for availability, and kit contents should be checked to ensure they have been replenished and any shelf life-limited items removed.
An ongoing review or program of internal audits should be considered to ensure ongoing compliance is being maintained. Maintaining this internal routine can certainly take the stress out of major external audits when they fall due.