Do you remember the toy Stretch Armstrong? It was very popular in the 70’s. It’s arms, legs and body were filled with gel and you could stretch it to all kinds of lengths. The toy was reintroduced in 2016 and is still available today.
In a warehouse, objects are often placed at towering heights that are hard to reach. Since you aren’t “Stretch Armstrong,” you have to use some type of equipment, such as a forklift or a man-aboard order picker to reach an item. Workers are often in danger of being hit by objects falling from heights or by reaching and bending into shelving to get to a product. Improper handling of boxes, pallets, cartons and items can cause strain and injury to different parts of the body, especially the back.
Warehouse hazards, though, create more accidents because of the massive quantities of products of all different sizes, shapes and weights stored on shelves, floors and anyplace else someone can find a place to put a box, pallet or carton. Often order pickers have to take on the persona of “Stretch Armstrong” if they want to pick an item from a tall shelf. Below are a list of top injuries in a warehouse and how to avoid them:
- Slips, trips, and falls –
- Each year, more than 8 million Americans will be treated in emergency rooms due to an accidental fall. If items are store haphazardly within the distribution center, such as sticking out too far from a shelf, or placed in the middle of an aisle, workers can easily injure themselves by tripping over or running into these items. Making sure floors are dry and slip resistant can prevent slips, trips and falls.
- There is additional risk when stepping into a rack to pick an item while picking on a man-aboard order picker. Warehouses that use manual picking have to put a person up to those towering heights to retrieve picks that aren’t full pallets (which they would use a forklift for). Not only does that expose a picker to the over-exertions of bending and reaching into racks, they have to do it 20 feet off the ground. A recipe for disaster.
- Lifting and Handling Materials – Improper handling of boxes, pallets, cartons and items can cause strain and injury to different parts of the body, especially the back. Heavy, big objects should be placed in the “golden zone,” where workers do not have to bend, reach or lift above their shoulders or below their waists.
- Overexertion Injuries – these occur when workers lift items that are big and heavy for a long period of time resulting in excessive physical effort. Injuries can occur to joints and ligaments. Also, in the warehouse, workers walk to pick orders. The trip length between picks can be quite long, especially if the warehouse is not organized properly. Properly planned pick paths, SKU rationalization and appropriate slotting of SKUs can help to cut down the length the worker must travel to fill orders.
- Material handling incidents such as dropped boxes and forklift accidents
- Falling Objects – Items not stored properly can fall and inure someone. If the storage racks do not have end-caps, items can just slide right out onto the floor causing injury.
- Forklifts – Most accidents occur in a warehouse at/with the docks, forklifts, conveyors, storage units and manual lifting/handling. Forklifts can overturn or they can be overloaded, subjecting materials to falling off. Accidents between forklifts of between a forklift and another surface can cause serious injury. Statistics show that 1 in 10 forklifts are involved in an accident each year. Operators need to check hydraulic levels, tire pressure, engines, controls, steering and brakes each day to make sure all are working properly. Forklift work platforms can minimize risks for those doing overhead tasks.
Reduce Injuries with Ergonomics Equipment
A good ergonomics program can decrease risk of injury, reduce travel time for workers, and optimize space – driving significant improvements to the bottom line and a more efficient operation overall. As part of any ergonomics program, heavy, big objects should be placed in the “golden zone,” where workers do not have to bend, reach or lift above their shoulders or below their waists.
Also, workers can injure themselves by reaching deep into a pallet rack in order to pick a case. If a case is stored on a pallet on the floor, they have to bend and reach, limiting their ability to properly lift the case and increasing their odds for injury. If the case is stored deep within the pallet rack, visibility and reach is compromised and further jeopardizes the worker’s safety when picking a case. Using pallet flow racks can ensure that the case is at the point of pick, and that workers do not have to climb into a pallet rack to reach them.
Tilted pick trays allow workers to get a better look at cases stored higher in the pallet rack, and allows them to pick that case without blindly reaching into the rack or scaling the beams. Equipment that allows the picker to slide products to the point of pick can also help workers avoid overexertion and injury.
UNEX Manufacturing has a variety of ergonomically sound order picking solutions available today. Don’t be a “Stretch Armstrong,” contact your UNEX Pickologist for more information.