Materials Handling Safety

4 Commonly Overlooked Safety Tools for Materials Handling

December 3, 2021

Materials handling is the most frequent cause of workplace injuries, according to Travelers, accounting for one-third of 1.5 million total claims analyzed in its Injury Impact Report. While most of these injuries were minor strains and sprains, they still significantly impact employees and reduce productivity. Fortunately, they’re preventable with the proper safety measures.

Let’s look at some commonly overlooked safety tools for materials handling and how you can leverage them to improve safety.

Materials handling is the most frequent cause of workplace injuries, but fortunately, most incidents are preventable with the proper safety measures. Click To Tweet

#1. Telematics Data

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, estimates that half of severe workplace injuries go unreported. Of course, these come in addition to the countless minor safety incidents that go unreported. These smaller infractions are often symptomatic of more significant problems and may be a precursor to major incidents.

Telematics enable businesses to automatically detect and track impacts, speeding, and other unsafe behaviors. In addition to catching even the slightest incident, these technologies detect dangerous behavior before they cause any safety incident. That way, managers can retrain unsafe employees to ensure safety at all times.

For instance, PowerFleet’s Keyshock provides instant alerts when abusive behavior occurs. The easy-to-install system activates when an impact exceeds a predetermined threshold and alerts management. You can also customize alarms based on safety requirements, while tamper-proofing ensures only management can reset an alarm.

#2. Camera Systems

Forklifts present a unique challenge for drivers. When carrying a load, drivers must ensure that the load is safe and simultaneously observe their surroundings. Large loads require operators to drive backward to maintain complete visibility, but it’s physically hard on the driver to look back for long runs through a warehouse.

Cameras provide forklift operators with complete visibility since they’re mountable in various locations. In addition to delivering optimal visibility for travel around the warehouse, they are helpful for roll handling, turret trucks, push-pulls, side shifting, and clamping operators that may require more visibility than basic forklift operations.

Furthermore, collisions caused by handling equipment, such as forklifts and lift trucks, are the second most common cause of freight damage and inventory losses. 80% of forklift accidents involve pedestrians, and a single forklift accident can cost your business more than $180,000. By using a camera system, industrial vehicles such as forklifts can avoid accidents, damage, and injuries. Camera systems can also protect employers (and employees) against false claims and accusations while providing actionable footage for training purposes. For instance, if telematics data shows unsafe driving habits, managers can replay unsafe behaviors for a driver to help reinforce the training and prevent future safety incidents.

Materials Handling Safety

 PowerFleet’s camera systems provide unparalleled visibility. Source: PowerFleet

PowerFleet’s video solutions give you a better line of sight in material handling operations, improve operator training and coaching through video recordings, and increase operators’ visibility to help prevent collisions and damage.

#3. Forewarners

Warehouses are noisy places with a lot of ambient noise. While a horn blast is well-meaning, it can be challenging for pedestrians or other drivers to hear. The most problematic areas are blind corners, crossing aisles, and exiting semi-trailers, where there’s limited visibility, and things tend to be fast-moving for everyone.

Forewarners and Sideliner LEDs project a bright LED line on a floor’s surface—alerting pedestrians and other vehicles in the area, regardless of ambient noise, to the nearby presence and direction of a vehicle. These lights are also helpful for overhead cranes to indicate places that may be unsafe for pedestrians or other vehicles.

PowerFleet’s award winning Forewarner-Sideliner LED provides six high-powered LED lights that are installable on any industrial vehicle. The easy-to-install and maintenance-free technology is designed for indoor and outdoor use and is available in green or red colors. The Forewarner MAXI provides solid blue or red lights for overhead crane hook locations.

#4. Weight Management

Overloading a forklift is extremely dangerous for drivers and nearby pedestrians or operators. Even if the driver is okay, overloading often results in significant equipment and product damages. Forklift drivers can prevent these problems by ensuring that loads are well-balanced and forks are at a reasonable height.

Weight management solutions can alert forklift operators when overload situations arise. In addition to alerting drivers when a weight threshold is breached, some weight management solutions provide a real-time reading of weight to help when loading semi-trailers or sea vans with limitations or to help with other weight-related use cases.

In addition, you can track freight loads to ensure that your shipments will not exceed trailer capacity, your waybills will match actual weight, and your lift truck capacity is not exceeded.

PowerFleet’s  Lift’N’Weigh and WeighTroller provide a robust hydraulic scale for heavy industrial use cases. The technology is accurate to +/- 2% of the forklift capacity and sounds an audible alarm when exceeding weight limits. Meanwhile, the WeighAlert provides an alarm-only functionality when specific weight measurements are unnecessary.

The Bottom Line

Technology plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of forklift operations. From speed management to camera systems, these solutions can detect unsafe behaviors before they result in significant safety events. They’re also very cost-effective when considering that a single accident can cost upwards of $20,000 or more.

At the same time, telematics can collect data to measure productivity and maximize profitability. For example, telematics make it easy to detect and measure idle time and tie these metrics to specific operators. These capabilities can help managers create customized incentive programs for employees and maximize productivity over time.

PowerFleet is the only company that provides a full suite of safety and theft solutions for all sizes of powered industrial truck fleets and warehouses. Check out our product catalog to view our portfolio of accessories and telematics solutions. To learn more and get advice on the right safety accessories and solutions for your operations, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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