Lead Forensics

Can robots improve warehouse safety?

Amidst the Christmas rush, warehouses are bustling with workers moving swiftly with box trolleys, picking trolleys and other manual handling equipment. This season also records a high incidence of warehouse worker injuries.

Forbes contributor Rich Blake has examined the potential of robotics in enhancing warehouse safety. Amazon is at the forefront of robot utilization in their warehouses. However, the company recorded 39,000 injuries in their American-based facilities for 2022 – an indication that these environments pose significant risks to workers. Nonetheless, Amazon reports a 23% decrease in injury rates since 2019, an indication that it is making progress in making their warehouses safer.

Injuries resulting from forklift collisions are a major challenge when forklifts travel in the same areas as manual workers. Recent research has shown that better driver training holds the key to improving forklift safety and could reduce collision rates by up to 70%. The advent of self-driving forklift technology could make unmanned vehicles safer.

Rich Blake concludes that:

“Automating a manual process comes with risks as well as rewards.”

Denise Stafford of Kuka Robotics believes that robots should be included in new logistics plans for warehouses as they can enhance both efficiency and safety measures.

Robots potentially could make warehouses safer as long as all safety issues are addressed. Most robots have collision detection systems that prevent them from hitting human workers. There should also be systems to prevent load carrying automated vehicles from being overloaded or carrying unstable loads that are a safety risk to staff working alongside them.

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