Warehouse working conditions

Warehouse working conditions

Warehouse work really has had a bad rap recently, for months all we heard was how badly workers had been treated in some warehouses, with headlines talking about staff being treated like cattle, forbidden toilet breaks, unobtainable targets and long shifts.

This gives all warehouses a bad name and while we accept that there are some not so nice places to work, it is important to note that there are also some fabulous places to be a Warehouse Operative, a Picker/Packer, a Team Leader or a Forklift Driver. There are so many places that pride themselves on supporting their staff, who only want what is best for each and every team member and who will encourage their warehouse workers to perform and succeed, no matter what stage they are at in their career.

It is not fair that all warehouses get tarred with the same brush, so we wanted to directly address a couple of the misconceptions associated with warehouse work.

Warehouse workers can’t take toilet breaks.

All of the reports about staff not being able to take toilet breaks were indeed shocking to read.  But it is important to note that these people were not all reporting that they were not allowed to take a toilet break, they were claiming that their targets were so high they felt that they didn’t have the time.

We can’t speak for all warehouses but in general targets are an unavoidable part of warehouse work, you will have fulfilment targets to reach as part of your job. Sometimes targets are set as a team, sometimes as a department and sometimes individually, but these targets should always be attainable within the working day with a reasonable expectation on what is achievable.

Warehousing is not the only industry that is so busy the staff can feel overwhelmed, under pressure to perform and reluctant to take breaks so they don’t fall behind. This is an occurrence in almost every industry and in every job, no matter what it is, from hospitality to law and from driving to admin.

Not matter what your job is or what industry you work in, we can’t stress the importance of self care and open communication enough. Shift work can really take it out of you if you don’t take the time to consider and look after your mental and physical well being. Our recent blog post Shift your Thinking provided some helpful hints and tips for surviving and thriving in shift work so do take a moment to check it out.

Don’t discount how beneficial it can be to talk to your team leader, line manager or your boss about how you are feeling, they are there to help you and they really do want to ensure that you are happy and comfortable in your work. Together you can work towards setting achievable targets, implementing working methods that will help you in your role and identifying the support systems that are available to you.

Ambulances are a regular occurrence at warehouses so they must be unsafe places to work.

Reports emerged in 2019 that ambulances had been called out to some warehouses over 600 times in a year, on the face of it this sounds like a really high number so people would be forgiven for thinking that warehouses in general are unsafe working environments.

The truth is that warehouses are actually subject to stringent health and safety policies and requirements, risk assessments are needed for absolutely everything that could raise any safety concern whatsoever. All staff are also provided with detailed health and safety training including manual handling and safe working environment training to help minimise accidents deriving from a lack of knowledge or carelessness.

We should recognise that the reports referred mainly to ambulances being called to treat staff who were generally unwell or for maternity reasons, not necessarily for accidents that happened at work.

For any work environment not just a warehouse, no amount of health and safety training can prevent staff illness. When employing any staff who are pregnant, the work place would have to conduct a detailed a risk assessment for the member of staff in their role which would hopefully mitigate any potential issues or dangers before they happen. To read more about working in a warehouse while pregnant click here. You are the best judge of how you feel and what you are capable of and it is your responsibility to communicate this along with any worries, concerns and illnesses to your line managers and employers.

The fact is, warehouses are busy, challenging working environments and they can take their toll. When applying for any warehouse role do plenty of research into the challenging nature of working in a warehouse and the fitness requirements of the role. These are detailed very clearly on our warehouse section so do go over and take a look, we can’t stress the importance of reading all of the information and understanding all aspects of a role before you apply.

If you want a behind the scenes view of what life is like as a warehouse worker you can check out our interview with Edward, a Warehouse Operativeand our Forklift Driver interview.