4 packaging tips to improve health and safety

Recent posts

Did you know that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) observes its World Day for Health and Safety at work each year on 28th April?

With this in mind, our latest article considers the role of packaging, and packing processes, in workplace health and safety. With hundreds of thousands of people working in warehouses, many in packing roles, it’s an important topic!

In this blog, you’ll find out about health and safety in packaging industries and four packaging tips to improve health and safety in the workplace.

role of packaging in health and safety

What is health and safety at work?

In essence, for businesses the term “health and safety” refers the prevention of accidents and ill health to employees and those who may be affected by their work.

In the UK, workers have a basic right to health and safety at work. This is set out in the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. Businesses must provide:

  • Adequate training of staff to ensure health and safety procedures are understood and adhered to
  • Adequate welfare provisions for staff at work
  • A safe working environment that is properly maintained and where operations within it are conducted safely
  • Suitable provision of relevant information, instruction and supervision

In addition to this, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require employers to provide a workplace that is not only safe but also suitable for the duties that are being carried out within it.

role of packaging in health and safety

The role of packaging in health and safety

So, what is packaging’s role in all this? Well, if you’re a business shipping products, you’re probably using packaging.  

The packaging materials, equipment and processes you use can influence your workers’ health and safety at work.

For example, if a box is the wrong size and needs cutting down, there is a risk of injury if a safety knife isn’t used and packing gloves aren’t being worn. The solution? Optimising your packaging so it’s an appropriate fit, alongside the correct safety equipment.

Another common area where packing processes can impact health and safety is repetitive movement and bending and stretching. These can influence your workers’ health in the long term, but there is packaging equipment and packing best practices that can help mitigate this!

role of packaging in health and safety

The benefits of safe packaging practices

Safe packaging practices can benefit your business in lots of ways, including:

  • Enhancing colleague welfare – when your packing staff clearly understand best practices and know the safest way to do their jobs, you can be confident that you’re safeguarding their welfare.
  • Reducing accident incidents – logically, if your packing processes and materials are safe, you can reduce accidents associated to them.
  • Improving productivity – making sure your team are comfortable, safe and have the right packaging to do their job can help make them more productive. Reduced downtime can ensure you’re getting more products out the door as efficiently as possible.
  • Improving packing quality control – packaging best practices that will improve health and safety can also enhance your packing quality control. Doing things the right way can help minimise excess material waste and allow you to more effectively protect your products.
  • Lowering costs – investing in safe packaging practices can help lower your costs in the long run. If you provide a safe environment, that is more productive, you can minimise staff turnover and effectively control associated costs. Plus, by reducing the risk of accidents, you can also mitigate the potential cost of workplace accidents.  
role of packaging in health and safety

Four packaging tips to improve health and safety

Now you understand packaging’s role in health and safety, and the benefits safe packaging practices offer, what should you consider? Here are four actionable packaging tips to improve health and safety:

  1. Implement right-size packaging to avoid manual adjustments – when packaging materials are too big or small, it can be tempting for packers to adjust them. Cutting down boxes or bags can be a common occurrence in warehouses. The ideal solution is providing a range of right-size packaging, which does not need to be adjusted, removing any risk associated with manual adjustments. Alternatively, you should provide specialist safety cutting knives and gloves, as well as other protective equipment.
  2. Store packaging materials in the “power zone” on pack benches – a great way to minmise repetitive strains and movements is making use of the “power zone” space on your packing benches. This is the space above hip height and no higher than shoulder height. Storing your packaging materials in this “power zone” means there’s less risk of your team bending or overextending, which could result in injury. Keeping packing materials in this area can also boost productivity, as it’s within easy reach.
  3. Make sure to provide packing equipment that minimises risks – kitting out your packing area with appropriate equipment is another way to reduce health and safety risks. For example, using anti-fatigue mats on hard warehouse floors lessens strain on your staff’s legs. The abovementioned safety knives and gloves minimise the risk of cuts too. Providing trolleys or conveyors to carry heavier packaging materials or finished packs can also reduce strain.
  4. Consider introducing packaging automation – automating some or all your packing processes can reduce health and safety risks too. Packaging machinery like case erectors, case sealers, pallet wrappers and right-size cartoning systems can reduce strains on workers usually associated with manual processes. Many systems often come with inbuilt safety features too!  
role of packaging in health and safety

Support with best practice packaging materials, equipment and processes

If you’re looking for support with the right packaging materials for your products or for equipment recommendations, our experts are here to help you.

We can provide advice about packaging best practices, materials and equipment that can not only improve your health and safety at work but also lower your costs and reduce your environmental impact.