Guide for unpacking shipping containers

2. Risk management

A safe and healthy workplace does not happen by chance or guesswork. You have to think about what could go wrong at your workplace and what the consequences could be. Then you must do whatever is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks arising from your business or undertaking.

To manage risks, you must first identify all potential hazards associated with unpacking shipping containers, assess them where necessary, and then eliminate the hazards so far as is reasonably practicable.  If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate this hazard, the risk must be controlled in accordance with the hierarchy of controls. The controls should be subject to the requirements of ‘what is reasonably practicable’.

It is not always necessary to conduct an assessment, especially if the risks and effective control measures are already known. For example, choosing a forklift to remove pallet loads.

In deciding how to control risks you must consult your workers and their representatives who will be directly affected by this decision. Their experience will help you choose appropriate control measures and their involvement will increase the level of acceptance of any changes that may be needed to the way they do their work.

Review your control measures from time to time to ensure they are working as planned and remain relevant.

The items packed in containers vary significantly, small, large, heavy, light and bulky. Therefore, the management of associated risks also will vary from one container to another.

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