Materials handling is the most frequent cause of workplace injuries according to Travelers Injury Impact Report, accounting for nearly one-third of all claims. When analyzing 1.5 million claims over a four-year period, the report found that materials handling injuries were especially common in the manufacturing and retail industries, accounting for about 40% of injuries.

In addition to injuries, forklifts are the most common cause of damaged products since operators are under pressure to move quickly, according to Terry Morgan, owner of Terry Morgan Inc., a registered transportation practitioner and expert witness. Even if they have received training on how to operate forklifts safely, they may work too quickly to follow the rules.

Let’s take a look at the role that technology plays in identifying accidents, preventing bad behaviors and reinforcing positive behaviors.

Materials handling is one of the most frequent causes of workplace injuries—how do you track and manage impacts? Share on X

Detecting Problems in Real-time

Many organizations rely on training programs to ensure workplace safety, but often these programs conflict with reality for many forklift operators. For example, forklift operators may be incentivized to load a set number of trucks per shift, which may not be a feasible goal while adhering to every safety standard.

Technology provides the critical ability to measure both performance and safety risks. Through the use of warehouse telematics, businesses can measure the productivity of individual forklifts along with any safety incidents in real-time. These capabilities make it easy for management to measure productivity and safety while making improvements where necessary.

Common challenges with impact sensing technologies include false alarms, excessive vehicle shutdowns and needless disruption of productivity. Ineffective safety systems often become deactivated safety systems, which defeats the entire purpose. Fortunately, there are effective systems out there that can help avoid these issues and unlock the benefits.

How Powerfleet Innovates

Powerfleet’s impact management system uses an on-vehicle computer that automatically detects, analyzes and normalizes G-forces exerted and how long they resonate in varying conditions over time. The patented technology learns each vehicle’s behaviors and establishes a “normal” range that eliminates false alarms and ensures a high level of accuracy.

The “fit and forget” capabilities eliminate the problems associated with setting, validation testing and fine-tuning an absolute, fixed impact threshold. In addition, the strategy sidesteps concerns over changing conditions, vehicle types and sensor mounting locations. Accurate settings are generated in hours, without calibration or user training required.

The technology even adjusts to different operator behaviors over time. For example, a “rough” operator at the end of the day won’t be impacted by the settings of a “careful” operator at the beginning of the day. The system can even differentiate between load statuses to avoid false alarms and capture speed, load and other data 5 seconds before and after an incident.

Impact Management


Impact Management

Powerfleet’s Impact Management System – Source: Powerfleet

The software behind the sensors provides managers with a wealth of information and capabilities. Depending on impact severity, managers can enable creeper mode, capture a video clip of the incident, receive text/email alerts or even see the locations on a map of the facility, which dramatically simplifies incident response and mitigation.

Building a Culture of Safety

Technology is critical for building a culture of safety. While training is essential, the right technologies can ensure that operators are adhering to the safety training that they received. If any safety issues are found, they can be addressed with further training or disciplinary action, while a lack of safety incidents can be rewarded in some way.

There’s also the natural human tendency to behave differently when tracked with technology. For example, operators may think twice about unsafe behaviors if they know that these behaviors will be automatically tracked and reported. The simple fact that the technology exists could help reduce safety incidents and encourage better behavior.

Tracking safety incidents can also be invaluable for defending the business against fraudulent claims. A rogue operator that’s involved in a safety incident of their own making is completely different than a careful operator caught in an unsafe work environment. Telematics and cameras can help provide critical evidence when elevating the response to claims.

Reducing Product Damage

Product damage is another common concern at warehouses. While these issues aren’t as severe, they can quickly add up in cost over time and lead to poor relationships with customers on the receiving end. There is also additional paperwork and friction that arises from damage claims from receivers and carriers.

At the same time, it’s paramount for organizations to both collect evidence that products were shipped in good condition and track any damage claims over time. These data points can help identify problem areas and find ways to reduce product damage.

The Bottom Line

Materials handling is one of the most common problem areas for workplace safety. While a good training program is essential, technology plays a key role in improving behavior and reducing workplace safety risks. These technologies include both productivity measurement tools and impact management solutions to identify safety concerns.

Powerfleet’s Industrial Vehicle Impact Management Solutions make it easy to track forklift impacts without worrying about user training, calibration and false alarms. Using its patented technology, the platform automatically adjusts to different driver behaviors and vehicles to differentiate between “rough drivers” and unsafe behaviors.

Download our free whitepaper, Industrial Vehicle Impact Management, to learn more details and the inner workings of the Powerfleet Enterprise impact management system and how you can generate value or contact us today for a free consultation.

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