Have you ever received a package of goods that arrived in an undesirable condition?
Have you considered the potential health risks associated with this foreseeable scenario?
Some examples you may have experienced:
- Bulka bags containing powdered or dry goods with residue on the exterior.
- Packaging material in shipping containers – such as untreated timber, or hazardous protective coatings.
- Products containing asbestos packaging, or asbestos within the goods themselves.
- Shipping containers that have not been fumigated.
These are challenges faced by businesses everyday who receive goods from overseas. Due to the obvious inaccessibility of overseeing handling, goods may be packaged in less than ideal conditions – sometimes due to differing legislative standards, or by the use of poor equipment with lower-quality packaging capabilities and materials.
Exposure to these products can lead to inadvertent health exposures for personnel, as well as resultant flow-on issues, including loss of productivity, incident investigations, time lost during management of the situation, treatment of issues/workers, and clean-up/disposal processes.
These issues have the potential to cause a significant hazard.
Our bulk logistics, ports, mining and construction clients have recognised the value in considering these exposure potentials within their Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and/or Lifecycle Risk Assessment (LCRA), whereby appropriate tools and risk-based controls are applied. Experience has shown that a facilitated, risk-based process of assessment, coupled with targeted sampling, has resulted in a clear picture of risk management – for the business and their associated workers, contractors, and suppliers.
What can you do to minimise your potential exposure?
Some of the initial actions you can consider include:
- Consider the supply chain and where the product comes from. Are there any known issues affecting the supply chain process?
- Is there suitable and/or consistent regulatory controls over the substance at its origin?
- Are there practices in place to prevent damage or contamination throughout the transportation process?
- Have you provided specifications for packaging material – including cleaning down requirements?
- Have you specifically banned asbestos containing material (ACM) being used by suppliers, and do you have checks in place to confirm this?
- Are there inspection and quality control requirements in place at appropriate hold points throughout the transportation process?
- What fumigation procedures are in place, and does this process introduce additional risks?
When working with your teams and suppliers, consider specific controls that will minimise any potential health risks to workers, and production-related losses involved with delays and damaged product.