Material Handling/Warehouse Safety

Trends in ... materials handling/warehouse safety

What’s new in materials handling and warehouse safety? We asked three industry experts. Here are three product categories they suggested employers take a closer look at to help protect workers.

1. Operator assist systems

“Chief among recent innovations are operator assist systems designed to reinforce operating best practices and support operator awareness,” said Jim Hess, director of warehouse business development for Yale Materials Handling Corp. in Greenville, NC. “People often look at individual features and think, ‘I don’t have this specific issue, so this technology doesn’t apply to me,’ rather than considering the potential of the technology against the entirety of the warehouse environment. Ask if there are opportunities where capabilities like automatically adjusting performance – limiting lift height, truck speed or even excluding trucks from certain zones – could help address areas in your facility that might be prone to incidents or have heavy pedestrian or truck traffic.”

2. Visual AI cameras

“The introduction of visual artificial intelligence cameras has transformed collision avoidance in the warehouse,” says Brian Jones, vice president of business development at Matrix Design Group in Newburgh, IN. “Through its machine learning capability, AI enables technology to distinguish people as well as specific objects, like other forklifts, stop signs and cars, alerting when they enter a pre-programmed zone around the vehicle. Blind spots and multiple simultaneous hazards can be readily identified by the cameras so that a driver with obscured vision or looking in another direction is alerted to the danger. Also, employers usually don’t realize that visual AI cameras can record and store zone breach incidents with photos and time stamps.”

3. Industrial vacuum cleaners

“Industrial vacuum cleaners should be an integral part of every manufacturing process,” says David Kennedy, business development manager for VAC-U-MAX in Belleville, NJ. “Standard industrial vacuum cleaners are vulnerable to ignition, making them unsuitable for combustible dusts. Whenever powder flows in one direction through a plastic vacuum-cleaning hose, it can create significant static electric charge. If a charged, ungrounded hose used to vacuum combustible dust powder were to come into contact with a grounded object, the static electricity could arc and trigger a violent explosion.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Eye/face protection

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