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Cabinets Step ladders Lifting and moving devices Moving items Shelving Compactus

Introduction

Storage rooms can sometimes end up becoming junk rooms containing an excess amount of old, broken equipment including old files and archive boxes. An ordered and organised storeroom allows ease of access and is a good starting point to avoid injury to workers.

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Cabinets

Storage rooms can contain many types of storage solutions. Filing cabinets could be one of those options. Older filing cabinets can be unstable on uneven ground and drawers could self-open due to the weight contained in the drawer.

Tips

  • Only open one drawer at a time.
  • Lock cabinets after use.
  • Don’t overload the cabinet.

Potential Harm

Crushing injuries
Hit by an object
Identified Hazards and Controls

Hit by open cabinet door

Cause

  • Cabinet doors left open.
  • Close cabinet doors after retrieving or adding your item.
  • Check the drawer is properly closed and doesn’t work its way open.
  • Lock the cabinet after use to prevent drawers self-opening.
  • Purchase cabinets that only allow one drawer to be open at a time.
  • Consider if filing cabinets are the right type of storage for your needs.

Crush injury

Cause

  • Filing cabinet tipping over.filing cabinet
  • Don’t overload cabinets.
  • Don’t open all the drawers at once, only open one at a time.
  • Don’t use cabinet drawers as stairs to reach higher items.
  • Purchase cabinets that only allow one drawer to be open at a time.
  • Consider if cabinets need to be fixed to the wall to prevent tipping.

Further information

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Step ladders

Occasionally we need to retrieve items from a height that is just out of our reach.  A step ladder or step stool can be used. However using a step ladder introduces a different set of risks including falling from the ladder.

Tips

  • Use the right ladder for the job.
  • Maintain three point of contact when using the ladder.
  • Fully extend and lock spreaders into place.

Potential Harm

Slips Trips Falls
Hit by an object
Musculoskeletal disorders
Identified Hazards and Controls

Falls from a height

Cause

  • Step ladder not used as per manufacturer instructions.
  • Ladder used is too short to reach items.
  • Not maintaining three points of contact with the ladder.
  • Ladder not properly positioned requiring worker to over reach.
  • Ladder failure.
  • Check the load capacity of the ladder. Will it hold your weight and the weight of the item you are retrieving?
  • Make sure the ladder is on a flat stable surface and the legs (spreaders) are properly extended and locked in position with the ladder steps facing the shelves to be accessed.ladder usage
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down.
  • Maintain three points of contact when using the ladder.
  • To retrieve large items you may need to use a lifting device instead of trying to lift and move the item yourself.
  • Provide step ladders or step stools that have the load capacity clearly identified.  Provide steps that can take heavy weights.
  • Use signage advising staff to put heavy items on lower shelves (at knee level).

Musculoskeletal disorders

Cause

  • Muscle strains from twisting, bending and over reaching.
  • Carrying items that are too heavy.
  • Sudden movements or unstable loads (such as the bottom falling out of an archive box when lifted).
  • Be aware of what your personal capacity to lift objects is. This will vary amongst individuals.
  • Avoid lifting items above your head. Use a step ladder so you can get to the height you need to be.
  • Undertake manual handling training.
  • Provide manual handling training.
  • Use signage advising staff to put heavy items on lower shelves (knee level).

Hit by falling objects

Cause

  • Objects or items being stacked too high.
  • Hidden objects or items stored on top of other items can fall when the lower item is removed.
  • Reaching for items above your head.
  • If you cannot see the top of what you are retrieving use a step ladder to get up higher and/or more level with the item. There could be things on top of the item and out of your sight which could fall on you.
  • Don’t reach above your head to retrieve items. The item could be heavier than you think or it could fall.
  • Design storage areas to suit the items to be stored. Shelving should take the size and shape of the stored items and prevent extra items from being stacked on top.
  • Use signage advising staff to put heavy items on lower shelves (knee level).

Further information

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Lifting and moving devices

Often people will attempt to lift or move items that are too heavy because they believe it will take too long to get assistance either from another worker or a lifting device. Even if you do use a lifting or moving device you can still be at risk of musculoskeletal injury if you rush and don’t follow procedures.

Tips

  • Use the right equipment for the job.
  • Avoid twisting.
  • Know your lifting capacity.

Potential harm

Crushing injuries
Musculoskeletal disorders
Identified Hazards and Controls

Musculoskeletal disorders

Cause

  • Twisting when pushing a trolley while trying to turn a corner.
  • Using an inappropriate trolley for the task.
  • Malfunctioning equipment.
  • Muscle strains from twisting, bending, and over-reaching.
  • Always push a trolley forward.
  • Position the trolley as close to the items as possible.
  • Use the foot brakes while loading if the trolley has them.
  • Use a semi-squat position to load the items.
  • Steer a trolley around a corner by stepping to the side and guiding the trolley in the same direction.
  • Provide a trolley that adapts to the weight (as weight is removed the floor of the trolley raises to ensure the user doesn’t have to bend down low to reach items.)
  • Provide information training and instruction on the correct procedures for using lifting and moving devices as well as lifting techniques.
  • Check to see procedures are being followed by providing adequate supervision to workers who are new to the task.

Crush injury

Cause

  • The contents falling out of the box and onto the feet.
  • Unstable loads toppling over.
  • Check the item before you lift it to look for any obvious deterioration in the containment device (box, canister, container etc.). Deterioration could occur due to rodents, the item becoming wet, or continually varying environmental conditions.
  • Don’t overload trolleys. Make another trip if necessary. It may only take a bump to knock the items off.
  • When purchasing a container consider its life span, its suitability to the task and how long you will be using it.
  • Use a professional archive or storage company to store items for long periods of time. They may have better environmental controls in place to prevent deterioration of boxes/ containers.
  • Provide equipment (trolleys etc.) to move heavy boxes long distances.
  • Provide instructions on appropriate load weights.
  • Provide manual handling training.

Further information

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Moving items

Accessing storage rooms that have become junk rooms can create all sorts of hazards with moving items out of the way to get to what you are after.

Tips

  • Use aids to lift heavy items.
  • Keep storage rooms neat and tidy.
  • Avoid twisting.

Potential harm

Musculoskeletal disorders
Identified Hazards and Controls

Musculoskeletal disorders

Cause

  • Muscle strains from twisting, bending, and over-reaching.
  • Carrying items that are too heavy.
  • Sudden movements or unstable loads (such as the bottom falling out of an archive box when lifted).
  • Be aware of what your personal capacity to lift objects is. This will vary amongst individuals.
  • Avoid lifting items above your head. Get a step ladder so you can get to the height you need to be.
  • Bend legs at the knees and keep your back straight when lifting.
  • Undertake manual handling training.
  • Consider team lift for heavy or bulky items
  • Provide manual handling training.
  • Provide equipment (trolleys etc.) to move heavy boxes long distances.
  • Provide a trolley that adapts to the weight (as weight is removed the floor of the trolley raises to ensure the user doesn’t have to bend down low to reach items.)
  • Provide instructions on appropriate load weights.
  • Supervision including regular checks to see if procedures are being followed.

Further information

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Shelves

Most offices will have shelving of some sort whether it is in cupboards or free standing. Quite often the top shelf is above head height.

Tips

  • Avoid overloading shelves.
  • Don’t climb shelves to reach the top.
  • Ensure heavy items are accessible.

Potential harm

Slips Trips Falls
Hit by an object
Musculoskeletal disorders
Identified Hazards and Controls

Free standing shelves

Cause

  • Reaching above the head or climbing on lower shelves to reach documents stored on higher shelf.
  • Shelving is unstable.
  • Shelves could tip over if overloaded or if items are incorrectly stored (i.e. with heavy items on the upper shelves).
  • Lifting heavy items with incorrect techniques.
  • Use a step stool or ladder to reach higher objects out of reach.ladder usage
  • Use proper lifting techniques when retrieving items from low shelves. Get help if the item is heavy.
  • Don’t stack items on top of others where people are not able to see the stacked item.
  • If the shelves are bowing or bending in the middle they probably already have too much weight on them so don’t add any more.
  • Single rows of freestanding shelving can be secured to a wall to prevent toppling over.
  • Limit height of freestanding shelving bays to allow the worker to reach the top shelf whilst standing normally.
  • Label shelves to identify heavier items that should be placed at a height that minimises the demands of manual handling (between knee and knuckle height).
  • Supply fit for purpose equipment suited to the actual tasks being performed. For example, carousel storage may be an option for the task.
  • Decide if lifting devices need to be provided.

Further information

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Compactus

The compactus is a very efficient way to use storage space. There are several issues associated with the use of this equipment including its weight, maintenance of rails, location of files and the ability to be trapped inside.

Tips

  • Activate the locking mechanism when in use.
  • Train workers prior to use.
  • Regularly inspect locks and rails.

Potential harm

Slips Trips Falls
Crushing injuries
Identified Hazards and Controls

Entrapment

Cause

  • Locking mechanism failure or not used.
  • Trapping of a staff member between the bays.
  • Check the locking mechanism to see if other people are in the compactus before unlocking and operating it.
  • Apply brakes/ locks (where applicable) to the bay that you are working in to prevent other people moving the door.
  • Retrieve or replace your items quickly and exit the compactus.
  • Instruct workers to check that no other worker is working inside the compactus before operating it.
  • Display appropriate signage to advise of the correct operation and warn against closing the compactus on workers working within.
  • Locate a mirror to allow workers to see ‘blind spots’ in the compactus.
  • Conduct a risk analysis on the compactus and review if it is still fit for purpose.

Trips and slips

Cause

  • Tripping on the raised compactus floor or rails.
  • Watch where you are walking and don’t carry too many items that obstruct your view.
  • Highlight the rails so they are visible to the eye.
  • Use signage to remind people of the step up/down into the compactus.

Muscle strains and sprains

Cause

  • Excessive force when pulling open shelving bays.
  • Reaching for heavy items above head height.
  • Hand or fingers getting caught between the doors.
  • Face the direction you want to move the compactus, and use the winding mechanism where provided or lean forward slowly, driving with your legs (where no winding mechanism installed).
  • Get help to reach high items or move heavy items.
  • Check ease of operation periodically and arrange maintenance and lubrication for moving parts.
  • Periodically check that the compactus is not loaded beyond its design capacity.

Further information