How Technology Can Improve Warehouse Safety

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on May 26, 2023 8:00:00 AM


Warehouses are generally noisy, dusty, and distracting environments, which makes them dangerous places to work. Employees are asked to perform repetitive work, the conditions can be hot and humid, and aisles might be cluttered with materials.

Because eCommerce sales have exploded in the past several years, the warehouse industry is under more pressure than ever to fulfill orders and deliver a positive customer experience. Employees in these jobs are under constant pressure to maintain accurate inventory, travel up and down aisles to pick orders, and get packages out the door swiftly.

The constant walking, bending, reaching, lifting, and stretching places significant stress on the human body. Beyond ergonomic risks, workers need to be concerned with injuries from machinery, falling objects, and other hazards. No one wants to work in an unsafe workplace, and OSHA violations can result in costly fines for a business.

According to the National Safety Council, a single worker injury costs a business an average of $38,000 in direct costs, which include things like medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation. But it can also produce about $150,000 in indirect costs for things like lost productivity and employee replacement costs.

So, it makes sense to focus on warehouse safety for the sake of your business and the well-being of your employees. Fortunately, some of the very innovations that can improve efficiency and productivity can also address safety. Here is how various technology solutions can improve warehouse safety.

Forklift Safety Technology

Forklifts are one of the leading sources of serious warehouse-related injuries and deaths. One of the ways to reduce the frequency of these forklift accidents is to ensure that the machines are safe for operation. Regular maintenance and repairs of equipment are a great start.

In some cases, warehouses are installing automated guidance systems on forklifts so the machines can move on their own using lasers to avoid collisions with objects and people. These machines are efficient and reduce many common workplace hazards.

Advanced Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

If you can consolidate all of your vital warehouse information in one place, this would reduce some of the repetitive tasks for your worker, improve efficiency, and boost safety. An advanced warehouse management system (WMS) can accomplish this goal.

A WMS incorporates all your manual and automated processes, transactions, and orders in one place. When you use barcodes or RFID tags, the system instantly updates inventory and reduces the workload and risks for your employees. Instead of having workers running back and forth or manually entering items, this system reduces the time and movements required for each task.

Warehouse Robots and Cobots

230404-supply-chain-management-trends-for-2023-and-beyond-1Most warehouses haven’t yet reached full automation. But robots and cobots (robots working alongside human workers) can perform repetitive tasks and jobs that are too dangerous for human workers. These automation solutions, like automated pickers and packers, can reduce the potential for repetitive motion injuries and other serious accidents, like slip and falls.

Wearable Technology

There are many uses for wearable technology in the warehouse. Devices like wireless headsets can be used to make the picking and packing process more seamless. Instead of having workers walk back and forth to get instructions, they can receive them through a headset. This reduces the unnecessary walking and fatigue that can lead to accidents and injuries. 

Warehouse employees can also wear fitness trackers that report things like body temperature and heart rate. This data can alert employees and management when a worker is in a risk situation, which can lead to an occupational injury. 

Proximity Warning Sensors

Using RFID tags and equipment on machinery or wearable devices, workers can receive warnings when they are getting too close to moving equipment or some other hazardous situation. These warning sensors can help prevent slip and fall accidents and serious collisions with moving vehicles in a warehouse. 

Warehouse Drones

Drone in WarehouseDrones are no longer just toys or hobby items. Today, these devices are finding a variety of uses in business, including in the warehouse. Drones can fly through your warehouse and capture inventory data using RFID technology, eliminating the need for workers to climb ladders or use lifts for inventory control. Drones are also used for warehouse security and equipment inspection, offering valuable services that keep your employee free from harm. 

Augmented and Virtual Reality Solutions

When a new employee gets hired by your warehouse, they have a lot to learn. Lack of training is responsible for many serious workplace accidents. Instead of simply asking new workers to “figure it out,” they can learn key aspects of the job off the warehouse floor using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) training. This allows new and existing workers to learn how to navigate the warehouse, sort and pick inventory, operate various machines, and do other new tasks without having to be placed into hazardous or high-traffic areas before they are ready. 

Lighting With Occupancy Sensors

Another potential cause of warehouse accidents and injuries is poor lighting. When workers can’t see where they’re going, they’re more likely to trip over hazards or walk into the path of something dangerous. Instead of relying on workers to turn lights on and off as they walk into an area, you can install occupancy sensors, which will turn on and off as they sense movement. 

In the short-term, automation and technology solutions can help warehouses boost efficiency and productivity, even in the face of labor shortages and other supply chain challenges. In the long term, these same solutions will help warehouses attract and retain workers because they create a safer workplace where employee well-being is one of the priorities. 

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Topics: Warehouse Managment, WMS, Warehouse Safety

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