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Reduce injuries with material handling automation

1.28.19

5 MIN READ

Safer working conditions is a key reason why many companies are implementing automation into their operations; after all the material handling industry spends up to $12.5 billion dollars on safety-related incidents a year.

To see if automation can help improve the health and safety of your team you need to first evaluate how workers receive injuries on the job. Injuries may be classified by OSHA as any of the following:

  1. Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). Injuries involving strain which develop, or build up over time.
  2. Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). Injuries affecting muscles, nerves, and tendons by repetitive movement and overuse. This condition mostly affects the upper body.
  3. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Injuries and disorders to soft body tissues including muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs.
  4. Repetitive motion injuries (RMIs). An injury to the body that is caused by performing the same motion over and over again thereby straining a body part.

 

Step 1: Identify where/why are RSIs/RMIs occurring
  • Moving and lifting boxes on and off racks
  • Gripping bulky items that may not have handles
  • Bending and twisting to lift heavy materials
  • Twisting and reaching overhead to get materials from racks and bins
  • Reaching down or stopping to load and unload boxes
  • Forceful motions, using a lot of effort to get a job done
  • Pressure points
  • Static posture
  • Extreme temperature
  • Workers exhibiting “pain behaviors” (ex: not moving body parts, restriction).
  • Pushing or pulling heavy objects
  • Increase in quality issues
Step 2: Speak with operations about reported injuries
  • What area of the warehouse are most injuries reported?

 

  • What are the past worker complaints?

 

  • What are common themes from past worker compensation reports?
How Automation can help

New advancements in robotics and automation can help reallocate staff towards being solution operators and trainers instead of manual material handlers. Mobile robots are ideal where extraneous long walks are required, retrieval systems can help with picking /reaching/twisting postures, and autonomous pallet jacks and tuggers replace repetitive driver strain and heavy lifting.

 

Want to know more?

Learn about Vecna Robotics’ entire fleet of self-driving vehicles from our Automated Material Handling and Hybrid Fulfillment brochures. Vecna will be displaying a wide range of vehicles, including its autonomous Tugger and Pallet Jack at booth #S5483. We’ll be showcasing our Automated Material Handling, Hybrid Fulfillment, and Workflow Optimization solutions, along with the self-driving vehicles and technology that fuels them.

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