Protection system

A robust approach to specifying industrial protection systems

Architects are increasingly specifying industrial protective equipment for warehouses and distribution centers. Brandsafe’s Paul Roehricht provides advice on best practices.

Distribution and logistics are dynamic sectors that are expected to be worth more than $325 billion by the end of 2024. In the UK alone, one of the leading commercial property groups* reports that investments in the UK industry and logistics totaled a record £6 billion in the first half of 2021, more than double the £2.7 billion recorded in the same period of 2020 and an increase of 54 % compared to the previous peak period in 2018. It also predicts that the UK will need an additional 92 million square feet of warehouse space over the next three years. Online grocery sales demand alone will account for 7.1 million square feet of this additional space.

So what does all this demand mean for warehouses today and tomorrow? One thing is certain, it will be crucial to pursue health and safety best practices in increasingly busy industrial environments. People and property need to be protected, and architects and others responsible for these designs need to understand how they can provide better, safer and more efficient workplaces for their clients. Under UK law, employers have a duty of care to their staff: they must identify the risks each person faces at work and plan accordingly.

specification

A key element of best practice involving the specification of new warehouses, or even the improvement or expansion of existing ones, centers on efficiency and sustainability of ownership – customers ultimately seek premises that work the safest and most efficient way possible. The Health and Safety Executive’s HSG76 gives guidance on a number of areas which should be considered when planning the layout of a site so that “…pedestrians and vehicles can move about safely. When vehicles and pedestrians use the same traffic route, there should be adequate separation between them”.

This involves the installation of clear signage and floor markings, which are essential for the safe and efficient movement of people, vehicles and machinery around the industrial workspace. HSG76 also recommends combining this clearly discernible signage with guardrails and pedestrian handrails used to create clear segregation and circulation pathways.

Shelving and storage is another area where additional safety gains can be achieved relatively simply and cost-effectively. Applying clip-on protection to the ends of racks and all sharp edges of units will protect, for example, people, vehicles and the units themselves from impact and collision.

Particular attention should also be paid to choosing the right product supplier. Above all, it is essential that they offer products adapted to the project. It may seem somewhat obvious, but it is not uncommon for certain security products to look good on paper but lack the necessary performance characteristics that make them suitable for the required application. Here, opt for products whose performance has been assessed and verified by independent testing – this will always be a good starting point and a clear indication of suitability.

A good supplier should be able to advise an architect on the performance requirements of each system, project by project, allowing you to tailor your designs to the exact needs of the end user. This is where it pays to partner with a vendor that has an in-house survey and design team; they can support you directly and facilitate the creation of tailor-made solutions for each project.

Expertise required

In the longer term, the life of the designated contractor will be simplified if your security system supplier is able to deploy their own installation teams. They will be in the best position to assist on-site, helping to ensure the project is completed on time and on budget. They will also have the technical knowledge to deal with any on-site issues during the installation process, which will aid in quick turnaround times and efficiency.

It is important to bear in mind that the end customer is required by Regulation 3 of the Occupational Health and Safety Management Regulations (1999) to “…make an appropriate and sufficient health risk assessment and the safety of its employees to which they are exposed while at work.” An experienced supplier will be well placed to offer guidance and insight when it comes to producing a comprehensive risk assessment for the project site in question.

Consideration should also be given to strategic supplier partnerships when the relevant products are required for your project. Ultimately, architects and specifiers will want to work with fast and responsive suppliers; organizations that can guide and advise based on project requirements through a consultative approach.

This is seen in the work of providing safety and impact protection equipment for large operators of new warehouses and distribution centers such as Amazon. Working with project architects SMR Architects, providing advice and project design, together with a full package of after sales services, the specification of a range of its high quality safety and protection equipment for a 180,720 square foot multi-storey site in Neasden features products designed to facilitate pedestrian and parking safety while improving vehicular traffic routing and site calming.

The Neasden site is part of Amazon’s ongoing plans to upgrade its international distribution infrastructure to improve operations and increase deliveries to millions of customers. Several sites across the UK and Europe are either being built or being upgraded to provide state-of-the-art centers to meet current and future operational requirements.

Hundreds of impact protection product items, including Armco safety barriers with integrated safety ends, corners and post caps as well as pedestrian safety handrails, column protectors, bollards, speed bumps and flexible traffic delineators, are part of a set of equipment installed on site by Brandsafe’s expert services team. The equipment is manufactured at the company’s site in Milton Keynes and also benefits from close co-operation between product suppliers and contractor teams across a wide range of works to deliver services and additional expertise in security planning.

The project shows how customer requirements can be met, adding value to the process through bespoke planning and advisory services. It also shows that taking a holistic approach to risk mitigation in the specification process from the outset should be seen as good practice and a sensible first step. This includes combining practical standards with safe behavior as part of an effective workplace operation. The key element of risk management begins with an assessment – the effective process of assessing health and safety threats from workplace hazards in order to eliminate or reduce the level of incidents/accidents .

And what should be considered best practice when managing workplace risks? The success of risk management relies on effective assessment: the process of assessing the risks to workers in order to determine the appropriate measures to eliminate or at least reduce the level of incidents/accidents. An assessment should identify key health and safety priorities in and around the warehouse so that efforts can be focused on these important areas.

A thorough risk assessment will involve considering a range of workplace factors, the hazards they may present and the people who may be affected. This work should involve collecting information such as current shift patterns, working arrangements, and then evaluating them before an assessment to decide on the most appropriate measures and strategies to reduce risk.

Health and safety is an essential part of any modern, well-run warehouse or logistics operation and there is always room for improvement when it comes to protecting and protecting people and mitigating risk. . In short, specifying effective security solutions is simply good business.

Paul Roehricht is Key Account Manager at brandsafe

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