October 2, 2019

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Health & safety in logistics

There’s more to be done to improve health and safety in logistics, says HSE

Logistics may be becoming more sustainable, but is it becoming safer? Kanwal Kanda, Head of Transportation at the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), took to the stage at IMHX 2019 to discuss the body’s latest findings about health and safety within transportation and storage in 2017/18.

Held at Birmingham’s NEC, from 24-27 September, IMHX 2019 welcomed the world of logistics with a series of seminars looking at the digital transformation of logistics and supply chains. There was a a consistent theme throughout the three days, that the confluence of digital technology and physical assets can only work if it leverages the skills and expertise of humans.

In the HSE’s slot, Head of Transportation Kanwal Kanda revealed some startling statistics:

  • There are currently 52,000 workers in the UK suffering from work-related ill health;
  • 49% of these are musculoskeletal disorders;
  • 15 fatalities occurred within transportation and storage, mostly from vehicle collisions;
  • This is a slightly higher rate than other professions;
  • This has an economic cost of £866 million.

Health and safety is the purview of both the HSE and local authorities. In 2017/18, 93 improvement notices and 25 prohibition notices were handed to logistics companies – and due to new sentencing guidelines, this has meant a higher number of fines and convictions.

Mr Kanda highlighted that SME’s in particular are still unaware of the health & safety guidelines, putting them at risk of heavy fines and massive reputational damage. He drew on the example of logistics firms whose lack of railings and walkways separating pedestrians from vehicles had led to life-changing injuries – or even death. It’s not just SME’s that should heed his warning though, SHP reported earlier this year that larger firms face biggest fine increases, following the changes in sentencing guidelines.

Work to be done

In the build-up to the show, Mr Kanda told SHD Logistics Magazine that warehouse safety has improved, but there remains work to be done. He said: “Injury statistics highlight a long-term downward trend in fatal and non-fatal injury rates across all sectors but in recent years has been broadly flat. An average of 26 fatalities across all industry over the last five years caused by ‘struck by moving vehicle’ (not all warehouse related) however, remains a cause for concern.

“While improvements in safety have been made, better leading indicators should be developed as they are a more effective management tool for addressing risk, e.g. in lift truck safety in warehouses, through effective monitoring of driver behaviour to prevent overturns and ensuring lifting / manoeuvring practices are safe.”

What’s the solution? “Risk assessments, compliance and communication,” said Mr Kanda. Plenty of guidance exists to help firms meet their obligations, noting ‘prevention is better than cure.’

Here are some of the other highlights and talking points

How robots are transforming the supply chain

IMHX 2019Ocado Technology’s Alexander Harvey spoke about how the confluence of physical and cyber helped to transform Ocado’s supply chain.

The firm’s new warehouses are highly automated, utilising small, mobile robots armed with grabbers to fetch items, before delivering them to human pickers to pack ready for delivery.

By developing a computer simulation of its warehouse before it was built, Ocado was able to accurately simulate how robots would move across the grid. In this way, when married to the physical warehouse, it could make predictions about robot movement and gather real-time data on errors and faults.

In the future, Harvey remarked, augmented reality would continue to transform this system, and testing is ongoing to further integrate robots into the operations, so that humans and robots can safely collaborate and add further optimisation.

Making warehousing more sustainable

Warehousing is making Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) more sustainable. CCEP’s Clare Bottle introduced the latest methods the global beverage company is using to reduce waste across the supply chain.

The firm’s new ‘This is Forward’ initiative was designed to meet – and indeed surpass – its obligations to the Courtauld Commitment, which was agreed by a number of huge organisations to cut carbon, water and waste by 20% by 2025.

Its greatest achievement, according to Bottle, is that CCEP now sends nothing to landfill. It’s all down to good planning and intelligent demand forecasting. To achieve this, CCEP has increased the proportion of ‘good’ stock it sends to market, and extended shelf-life significantly. It has also better rotated its stock, ensuring older products are distributed first.

Poorer-quality stock is sent for use as animal feed. According to Bottle, pigs actually enjoy the taste of Diet Coke, which is regularly used to add consistency to ‘high calorie porridge’ often fed to pigs. Meanwhile, aluminium cans are crushed into reusable bales, and plastic is reused so that 30% of all PET bottles come from recycled sources. The rest is used for biofertiliser.

In this way, Coca-Cola has made enormous strides towards its Courtauld Commitment goals, making it one of the most sustainable major companies in the world.

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