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Why Too Much Stock Could Ultimately Be Bad For The Environment


All businesses like to make a profit. Even charities or not-for-profit organisations will still have costs which need to be paid for somehow, so generating more money than is paid out will be gratefully welcomed by any business. Along with increasing the amount of money that comes in, the other way of producing or increasing profit levels is to reduce the amount paid out in costs.

Aside from wages and premises costs, the other major expense facing many businesses - especially those which manufacture products - comes from the cost of buying supplies and raw materials. Companies obviously want to pay out as little money as possible without sacrificing on the quality, which means that if they can get the same product for a lower cost then they will jump at the chance. One way of doing this is to buy in bulk, as many suppliers will offer goods at a slightly lower cost per unit for larger quantity orders. Whilst this may save money and increase profits for the company, there can be undesirable consequences with regards to both the health and safety of people and the effect upon the local environment.

The fundamental hazard associated with too much stock lies with the fact that it has to be stored somewhere. Whilst this is fine if the company has adequate facilities to store the quantity ordered, problems can arise if they do not have the available space and have to store a bigger quantity than they are geared up to handle. Not only can storage areas become full to the brim with stock piled high on top of each other and causing a danger of items falling onto people below, but there will also be a temptation to store the overflow in other places such as corridors. This can create multiple hazards, including:

  • A trip hazard as people walk down the corridor and may not see items on the floor.
  • A fire hazard if flammable items are placed in front of heat sources or happen to block vents/outlets.
  • Slow down an emergency evacuation as people have to squeeze past or clamber over objects. This hazard can be further compounded if the items block emergency escape doors.
  • If the stock is food, ordering too much and operating a last-in-first-out system can mean that old food is always at the back and can go mouldy, which causes a biological coshh health hazard.

Potential Environmental Consequences

Having a lot of stock on the premises can lead to a serious environmental disaster if an emergency situation should arise, particularly if the emergency is a fire. Poisonous gases and toxic chemicals can be released into the air as the items burn, and large volumes of water used to extinguish the blaze can wash hazardous chemicals away from the site and into the soil, where it can seep into groundwater and pose a danger to people as well as causing serious environmental issues as it kills or damages plant and animal life.

Limit Quantities of Stock and Supplies

Whilst it may be extremely tempting from a financial point of view to focus solely on price and order large quantities of materials, and then worry about where to put it all afterwards, it is important to consider before purchasing that you may be creating a health and safety danger which can put the safety and wellbeing of people at risk, not to mention that of the environment should a situation such as a fire happen to take place.

Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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