More and more shipping containers are moving through NSW terminals. Both professional import/export operators and small scale businesses and sole traders are moving goods via container. Unpacking shipping containers can be hazardous, particularly when it comes to unpacking heavy, awkward and unsecured items or handling sheet materials such as glass, stone, panels, and timber. Workers are at risk of being crushed by materials and falling objects as well as being hit by the plant and machinery used in unpacking.
In a five year period from 2011:
- there have been 31 serious injuries
- there have been 3 fatalities
- all of the people who were killed or injured were male.
The container trade is estimated to double over the next 20 years. To stay safe around shipping containers, understand the risks and how to manage them.
Common causes of injury
- being hit by unrestrained items or falling loads
- collision of people and plant
- manual handling of goods leading to musculoskeletal injuries, such a sprains and strains.
What you can do to stay safe
- Work with suppliers to ensure loads are packed to allow for safe unpacking.
- Always establish a plan for safe unpacking before doing anything else.
- Plan ahead so the right equipment is on hand.
- Don’t let workers enter the container if there is a risk the load may move and trap them
- Don’t let people and mobile plant to operate inside containers at the same time. While unpacking, keep looking out for unstable loads that may have shifted.
- If in doubt, hire a specialist to unpack the container.
- read our guide for unpacking shipping containers
- remember to tick off risk management processes with this checklist
- get an overview of hazards and controls with this short guide
- Safe Work Australia's guide to managing risks when unpacking shipping containers, including exposure to hazardous chemicals, for example fumigants and solvents
- How to manage work health and safety risk code of practice
- Managing the risks of plant in the workplace code of practice