Trends in … warehouse safety
‘Keep the fundamentals of safety top of mind’
Warehouses are busy places. David Cavallaro, general manager of general safety for Honeywell Personal Protective Equipment, can attest. “Not only are people moving around loading, unloading, picking and putting away, but increasingly technology is on the move as well, such as forklifts transporting pallets and autonomous mobile robots moving through aisles carrying replenishment containers.
“With so much going on in today’s warehouses, it’s important to keep the fundamentals of safety top of mind.”
Challenges and solutions
“The labor shortage is one of the most pressing challenges for warehouses,” Cavallaro said. “Working in a warehouse environment can be physically demanding, and many workers sustain injuries on the job from overexertion and muscular fatigue or strains.”
Customers often ask him how to retain workers. His advice? Enhance the overall worker experience. “Many warehouse workers spend a significant amount of time using mobile computers during their shifts. Selecting safety gloves that work with touch screens can enhance productivity. Supplying safety eyewear with blue blocker coatings can help reduce eye fatigue when continuously looking at a screen. Attention to small details can make a big impact on worker satisfaction.”
Joe Ellestad, director of customer relations and sales support at Rite-Hite, agrees that small-scale changes can make a big difference. “Safety equipment upgrades do not have to be made on a full-system basis (i.e., tearing out all equipment and starting over with new integrated smart equipment.) Items like the motion-sensor light communications systems can be added as aftermarket, retrofit products that work as standalones. Leading edge dock safety equipment can be installed and upgraded to add smart features at a later date. Upgradeable equipment allows smaller operations to improve one step at a time, as they can afford it.”
Brian Jones, vice president of business development for Matrix Design Group, said his firm often hears one particular concern and question “in many different forms, but the theme is the same: Safety personnel across various industries face concerns with vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-vehicle interactions.
“The question to us is how to mitigate those interactions and, when they do occur, how to identify the root cause. Even with best efforts to separate the pieces, we understand that those interactions are inherent to many operations. We suggest performing a risk assessment to understand the use cases and where engineering solutions or technologies may assist – narrowing the scope of technology you believe may solve a problem – and reaching out to providers for pilots or trials of the different solutions. Implementing new technology can improve facility safety and provide incredibly valuable insights into facility operations.”
To Cavallaro, “A combination of proper training, creating a culture of safety and using appropriate PPE all contribute to making warehouses safer for the critical workers.”
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association
Coming next month:
- Eye/face protection