For every 100 full-time employees in the private sector, 2.9 workplace injuries were reported in 2017, totaling roughly $1 billion per week in medical expenses, absenteeism, decreased productivity, and employee turnover. In 2019, the total number of injuries remains nearly unchanged at 2.8, with material movers reaching the highest away from work cases reported.

Since worker injuries and labor shortages are leading causes of unexpected disruptions and expenses, manufacturing and logistics companies are constantly adopting ergonomic systems to improve employee safety and increase retention. In warehousing and logistics, automation is well known for its ability to increase productivity and reduce labor costs. However, operations leaders must first identify key areas of improvement for warehouse safety and efficiency to boost profits.

Solutions to 4 Most Common Warehouse Safety Hazards

As warehouses increase their pace to meet growing consumer demand, the possibility of warehouse safety hazards also increases. With issues ranging from worker error to workplace hazards, it’s imperative for businesses to recognize some of the most common warehouse safety issues and how to avoid them.

  • Human error: Human error can cover a wide range of issues in warehousing, ranging from poor worker behavior to rushing, not following best practices, or equipment errors with forklifts. According to research, 23% of unplanned downtime is a result of human error.

  • Repetitive motion injuries: Warehouse jobs often require workers to do repetitive tasks for much of the workday. These repetitive motions result in common injuries such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, back pain, and more. Repetitive motion injuries were among the top 10 costliest injuries in 2020, costing a total of $2.05 billion.

  • Handling and storage hazards: According to OSHA standards, stored materials should not create a hazard for employees. Materials must be easily accessible to avoid exertion, storage areas must be free of accumulated materials that may lead to trips or falls, and warehouses must secure racked material to avoid falling or moving objects.

  • Hazardous materials: Handling toxic and flammable materials present a serious risk to workers. Manufacturers and importers of hazardous materials must properly identify and label materials and provide detailed information about how to safely handle. These materials must be properly identified according to OSHA standards.

How Automated Material Handling Improves Workplace Safety

The most cost-effective tasks to automate are repetitive and predictable in nature – shifting these tasks to machines frees up humans to fill more valuable roles, removes opportunities for injuries, and allows more ergonomic working positions.

For example, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) move loads in and out of storage, often on high-rise space-saving racks. The AS/RS lifts and lowers loads to and from densely-packed racks, eliminating needs for human hauling, maneuvering, or forklift operation.

Integrate this AS/RS with a material transport solution such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or rail-guided vehicles (RGVs) to create a goods-to-person system, and employees will no longer have to spend time walking and moving loads across crowded or high-risk working areas. These benefits are especially valuable in facilities that work with hazardous materials or in the cold supply chain. Systems are engineered to handle a wide range of cold temperatures and volatile substances, which further shields employees from discomfort and risk.

Warehouse automation integrates proven material handling technologies known for stringent safety standards and built-in protection. AS/RS and AGV safety features often include redundant measures like 360-degree safety scanners, multiple navigation options, and emergency braking systems, making them safer than even the most experienced human operators.

Automated Material Handling Solutions from Murata Machinery USA

Murata Machinery’s automated material handling equipment is designed to support our clients’ specific inventory and process requirements, resulting in shortened cycle times and increased throughput.

Our automated material handling systems help businesses store, sort, and transport materials with reduced costs and increased productivity. With over 14,000 installations worldwide, Murata Machinery’s proven material handling technologies empower companies in industries such as intralogistics, distribution, aerospace, automotive, electronics, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductors.

  • AS/RS: Each of our AS/RS base configurations are fully customizable to meet specific requirements for product/load characteristics, cycle time, and more. The engineering team will work with you to analyze your manufacturing processes, current storage methods, and future business goals to design the best solution, aimed to improve operational efficiency and safety by eliminating manual tasks.

  • Picking and sortation: Automated goods-to-person solutions allow pickers to avoid non-ergonomic positions and spend less time moving between points to improve safety and help meet customer demands. You can count on our equipment to improve logistics with accuracy and speed. Learn more.
  • Transportation: Our transport systems are flexible and easy to install.

  • Systems include monorail, rail-guided vehicles, and AGVs to guarantee precision and safety in warehouses.

  • Software: Developed in-house, our software solutions optimize material flow into, within, and out of your manufacturing facility, warehouse, or distribution center, enabling 24/7 operations with semi and fully automated processes.

Automated material handling safety can meet the unique needs of your business. Improve warehouse safety by automating manual processes such as sorting, picking, and transporting. Learn more about the benefits of the Muratec line of automated material handling solutions today.