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  7. Importance of Accurate Inventories for Health and Safety

Importance of Accurate Inventories for Health and Safety


A smiling worker taking stock inventory writing on a clipboard

An accident or incident in the workplace can be dangerous for a large number of people, such as creating an explosion which causes injury or death to those unlucky enough to be nearby.

However, not only is this a risk which needs to be considered and countered against through health and safety training and the introduction of dependable safety features, but there are also a high number of dangers which are caused by substances coming into contact with each other in the aftermath of the incident, when they would otherwise be kept completely separate.

A thorough risk assessment carried out before the incident should identify the possibilities for substances to interact in the event of different kinds of incidents. It should also have started the process of creating suitable control measures that are designed to mitigate and prevent the substances coming into contact with each other in the event of an emergency, including:

  • The creation of bunds to contain liquids
  • Automatic shut-off valves to stop the flow of gases or liquids
  • Blast-proof and/or fire-proof walls and doors of hazardous substance storage areas to prevent escape and contamination

The Importance of Accurate Inventories

The potential size and scale of an incident like an explosion will depend greatly upon the quantity of substances which happen to be stored on the premises. A large amount of hazardous gases or liquids can create a much more dangerous incident in terms of the area covered, and therefore the number of people affected. Companies should try and minimise the amount of hazardous material they have on the premises as far as possible without disrupting operations. For some businesses this will be fairly straightforward and easily achievable, whereas for others it will not be possible without causing significant issues to its smooth operation and overall productivity levels.

If an incident were to occur, as it unfolds and the emergency services are called in, it will be extremely important for them to know exactly what they are dealing with in terms of the specific substances hazardous to health and also in what quantities. This is because it will affect critical decisions, such as whether the site is safe enough to enter at all, and the size of the required safety cordon which is needed around the location.

In order to provide this information correctly, an accurate inventory needs to be maintained at all times. Logging the inflows and outflows of substances will enable the company to know exactly how much of each hazardous substance is currently being stored on the premises. This information can then quickly and easily be given to the fire brigade or other incident response team so that informed decisions can be made.

It will assist in safeguarding the health and safety of everybody nearby, including the emergency service personnel themselves who will also now have their safety and well-being put at risk, to prevent an incident getting potentially far worse in terms of endangering health and damaging the surrounding environment.

Financial Benefits of Keeping Accurate Inventories

Along with the safety aspects of keeping accurate and up-to date inventories, it is also a good idea from a purely financial point of view.

Poor record keeping will make it difficult to know exactly how much money has been spent on materials and chemical agents, which distorts any budgets or financial planning that the department or firm as a while attempts to make.

It also makes it much more difficult to identify or prove any suspected theft from the company. Without accurate records of what should be on the premises as opposed to what is actually present, it will be virtually impossible to be able to tell whether someone is stealing. Not only is this a bad situation for the company in terms of its profits, but there could be a bigger problem in that, depending upon the industry, some of the chemicals stolen could cause serious harm if they fall into the wrong hands and are not used or stored correctly.

Too Much Stock

Inventories that are out of date or just plain wrong could lead to a greater quantity of chemicals or materials being ordered than the company has room to safely store! Rather than throwing it away and losing money, items may end up being stored in a dangerous manner. For instance, items may be stacked up too high on top of one another, creating a danger of them falling onto somebody’s head below. Things may also be stored in corridors where they block fire escapes, are sat next to heaters/radiators, or reduce space which will be critical to allow free movement of people in the even of an emergency evacuation.

Too much stock may again impact the company’s finances, as holding excess inventories of materials could lead to working capital issues if all the cash has been spent on this excess stock and inflows from sales do not come in quickly enough.

Related Topics: COSHH Training and Fire Training

Of course, the number one priority and intention that every manager of a business should adhere to is to prevent accidents and incidents occurring in the first place. The provision of health and safety training to employees is a significant component of this goal.

Where hazardous substances are involved, providing bespoke COSHH training to employees teaches and provides them with safety information regarding the substances which they may be exposed to in their place of work. By understanding exactly what they are dealing with and how they can stay safe and minimise the potential for accidents as far as is reasonably practical, the chances of them or somebody else being killed, injured or made ill can be materially lowered.

The other hazard that increases in likelihood if inaccurate inventories lead to too much stock being held is that of a fire. If a fire were to occur, it could have devastating consequences not only for the employees of the business, but also for everyone else in nearby buildings too.

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