Does AI and Automation reduce Safety Issues in Warehouses … »

When workplaces integrate machinery into the process, workplaces can make the environment even less hazardous and improve warehouse safety.  Where AI robots are responsible for driving dangerous machinery and storing inventory in hard-to-reach places, accident rates are reduced.  Automation solutions are known to increase productivity, while reducing the need for workers to perform physically-intensive tasks.

The benefits are as follows:

Musculoskeletal Disorders

SafeWork Australia states that Musculoskeletal disorders MSD are the most common work-related condition in Australia despite the fact there are known methods to eliminate or minimise them.

A hazardous manual task can be identified where there is a lift, lower, push, pull, carry, hold or restrain activity. These can include; repetitive movement, repetitive or sustained force, high or sudden force, sustained or awkward postures and exposure to vibration.  All these factors cause stress the body and can lead to a wide range of injuries.

SafeWork Australia reports that there were:

The majority of workers are familiar with lifting materials using equipment or by hand. Even when workers are trained, in proper lifting techniques, accidents can happen and musculoskeletal-related injuries can occur.

The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) examined the incidences of musculoskeletal injuries and clarified that these types of injuries happen due to overexertion or repetitive motion. They found that the part of the body most affected by musculoskeletal injuries varied depending on the occupation. Back injuries comprised the majority of injuries, accounting for 38.5% of all musculoskeletal incidents suffered at work in 2016.

Maximising Safety and Efficiency with AI and Automation

The use of AI and warehouse robots could assist with alleviating workers of injuries caused by physical fatigue.  Many of these machines identify obstacles in the environment while moving and are particularly suited to facilities like shipping warehouses.  QR codes enable the transportation of carts loaded with stock to be directed to packers who then load the stuff onto a truck for off-site distribution to their destination.

The associated software that controls the robots with the capability to keep things running smoothly while avoiding bottlenecks.  A safety features developed by NASA and Carnegie Mellon triggers robots to automatically shut down before making contact with a person or object. The designers of this robotic system say workers could apply it to any piece of moving equipment without needing to invest in new machines. That aspect could also increase safety, since it allows people to keep working with the machinery they already know well.

The high-risk of falling from heights

Some companies find that vertical structures that extend several stories into the air work best. That’s particularly true in cases with limited space, such as crowded urban areas. Falls from heights are frequently associated with warehouse injuries. One common scenario is that workers fall after using forklifts to reach items on high shelves. The construction design teams that build new warehouses are often looking for ways to maximize available space and build upwards, as e-commerce brands expand to meet expectations, and more room is required

SafeWork Australia reported that over the eight-year period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 232 workers were killed following a fall from a height, 11% of all workers killed over this period. In 2010–11, 29 workers died following a fall from height equating to 0.25 fatalities per 100 000 workers.

.The company develops robots made to work in warehouses that span multiple levels, reaching things that are too high for humans, then bring the items down for warehouse workers to take. This eliminates the need to perform work at dangerous heights.

Reducing physical demands and fatigue

Some jobs are physically demanding and the workers performance can be exacerbated by various factors like insomnia, stress, feeling unwell etc, that may also contribute to fatigue at work.

Some studies have linked workers fatigue to workplace accidents and injuries. It found that people are most at risk when they don’t take breaks often enough and when breaks are too short. Moreover, the risk rises if a person works a shift exceeding 11 hours, or one that occurs at night.

The advantages of AI and Automation

The advantage of robots is that they can work consistently, over long periods without stopping, where workers show a decline in performance as they start to get fatigued.

 Some of the benefits are:

Worker safety is an important reason for automating an industrial operation. Automated systems often remove workers from the workplace, thus safeguarding them against the hazards of the workplace environment.  Whilst investing in automation comes at a great cost, automation technology, if used wisely and effectively, can yield substantial opportunities for the future. There is an opportunity to relieve humans from repetitive, hazardous, and unpleasant labour in all forms.