The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently conducted a research report investigating the potential hazard of workers being overcome upon entry into shipping containers. They’ve found that these containers may contain hazardous substances or diminished oxygen levels.
They found a potential for exposure or asphyxiation in these containers during a range of site visits, as stated in their report:
The HSE did note some areas of good practice at ports, including:
Despite this, there were still some gaps in training and preparedness which they highlighted, including:
In contrast to the good practice highlighted by the HSE at port locations, and despite the fact almost identical risks are posed to distribution centres, a striking line in the report states that:
“In contrast to the ports, the distribution centres that participated in this research, did not have procedures or control measures in place which would protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances.”
In all cases where shipping containers are used, a risk assessment must be conducted, and control measures proportionate to the risks implemented. Controls may include:
If you are a distribution centre, or regularly receive goods from shipping containers, please ensure that you review your current arrangements and implement additional controls where necessary.
There are further considerations contained within the research report, which can be read here.
If you’ve got any questions about how this research might affect your business – and how we can support you in making sure you’ve covered all considerations – you can call our Health & Safety team 24/7 on 0345 844 4848.
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