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Potential Worker Exposure - Freight Containers

Port and distribution workers who play a crucial role in making sure items are delivered to buyers in the UK could be putting their health at risk.


Workers who open or enter the containers could be exposed to dangerously low oxygen levels or to hazardous substances in the air which have built up as a result of limited ventilation while they are sealed.


To learn more about the potential risks to workers in their work with freight containers, the HSE carried out research, which involved visits to six ports and two distribution centres by HSE scientists. The scientists found a range of hazardous substances and low oxygen levels inside the containers which had the potential to affect workers who open or enter them.


Nicola Jaynes, from HSE’s Transport and Public Services Unit, said:

“..The research confirmed there is the potential for exposure to hazardous substances and/or oxygen depleted atmospheres when opening freight containers if effective control measures are not in place. This underlines the need for suitable and sufficient risk assessment when conducting this type of work..."


“...researchers did not find adequate safe systems of work at the two distribution centres. While this was only a small sample size, these findings cannot be considered as representative of the distribution sector. HSE will use the findings to inform and engage with the industry and local authority regulators.”


Businesses must have effective control measures in place to protect workers. HSE publishes guidance that will help - Confined Spaces Regulations 1997


If you require Confined Space Awareness or Confined Space Entry Training, contact us for a quote, or more information:

01782 438813


To read the full research report click here.

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