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Safety and ROI for Industrial Operations

January 30, 2013

Kevin Gue

In a recent blog post, Auburn professor Dr. Kevin Gue, one of the bright minds in the country when it comes to the business of industrial distribution and plant operations, reflected on the reaction to his ProMat 2013 talk on “Designing a Worker-Centric Facility”.  Many salient points emerged:

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The Importance of Conveyor Emergency Stops

September 11, 2012

conveyor emergency stop

Take a look at your conveyor – do you think it’s safe? Are there sufficient guardrails? Are operators wearing loose clothing? Are visitors allowed near running lines? Because conveyor seems safe at a glance, it’s an often-overlooked hazard. Used correctly, of course, it is a safe way to increase productivity.

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Seeing Around Corners: The Danger Spots in Warehouses & Factories

August 28, 2012

pallet rack row end and forklift traffic

In an industrial environment, intersections can be dangerous. With fast-moving workers who are busy and probably distracted, and fast-moving forklifts that may have loads elevated that can obstruct the driver’s view, corners, ends of rack rows, and intersections can be the cause of many accidents. Whether it’s a worker walking and carrying a load, or a forklift on its way to the next pick, the chances of collisions, injuries, and damages are greater at intersections than most anywhere else. What are your options when it comes to making your intersections safer?

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OSHA, Whistleblowers, and Safety Bonuses

April 9, 2012

carrying cartons in a warehouse, wearing safety vest

OSHA has recently released a guide to safety incentives, disincentives, and reporting issues. It’s worth a quick read if you manage a manufacturing, warehousing, or industrial facility.

This document focuses on reporting/non-reporting workplace injury issues. OSHA says that “Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11(c).”  Of course, smart companies want to know if there are unsafe conditions or practices. But what if your safety rewards program is discouraging employees from reporting incidents, or even near-misses?

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Visitors to your operation: how to make them safer

February 29, 2012

Are your warehouse visitors paying attention?

Safety is always a concern for industrial operations, but visitors take the dangers to another level.

In a fast-paced distribution center, there is plenty of forklift traffic, moving conveyors, packing machines, carousels, and dock doors. Same with manufacturing; you have all kinds of production machinery, welding (human and robotic), and heavy material being handled, stacked, or processed, along with the forklifts and other handling equipment. It’s hard enough to keep your own people – the ones who should know the lay of the land – safe in these environments. But what about visitors who haven’t had the benefit of your safety training and the situational awareness that your employees develop over time?

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Posted in Conveyor, Cross Docking, Manufacturing, Material Handling, Order Picking & Fulfillment, Safety & Ergonomics, Warehousing| No Comments »

11% of Forklifts are Involved in Accidents Annually. What Can You Do?

January 14, 2011

hurtling forklift

There isn’t much other way to say it: If you have a forklift, it is almost surely the most dangerous piece of equipment under your roof. If you have many forklifts, that danger us multiplied.

How dangerous? According to OSHA estimates, there are 61,800 minor injuries, 34,900 serious injuries and 85 forklift related deaths in the United States every year. Since there are almost 900,000 forklifts operating at any given point in the United States, this is something that every operation needs to consider when your forklifts start moving on a busy day. 11% of them stand a good chance of being in an accident or collision every single year. Those aren’t great odds, considering that a forklift in a given warehouse is heavy, moving, and in a noisy and often visually crowded environment.

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Did Wood Pallets Cause the Tylenol Recall?

February 11, 2010

wood pallets

According to DC Velocity, the answer may be yes.

The maker of several over-the-counter drugs, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl, announced a broad-based recall of these and other drugs after receiving complaints of an “unusual moldy, musty or mildew-like” odor. Johnson & Johnson received what the company described as a “small” number of complaints of issues including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

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Guide to Forklift Safety for Pedestrians

January 18, 2010

This is a great video from WorkSafeBC on how to prevent forklift injuries from a pedestrian’s point of view.


As a pedestrian in a forklift environment, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe.  Anyone who runs a warehouse or industrial facility understands the dangers, and drivers should be trained. But do you train the pedestrians, the order pickers, the managers, and vendors who sometimes roam your facility?

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Getting the Load Right for your Pushback Rack

October 12, 2009

pushback rack applicaiton

Push back rack systems are excellent high density storage solutions — perhaps the most economical way to squeeze space out of a crowded warehouse.  All loads are stored and retrieved from the same aisle. This reduces the number of aisles needed in a facility, freeing up more space for storage. Aisles can take a great deal of space up in a typical warehouse, so by implementing a pushback pallet rack system, you essentially swap selectivity for space. Push back rack systems provide a Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) inventory rotation, so you have to be certain your load fits. If it does, congratulations — you’ve just saved a lot of space. But there are issues that can arise when pushback rack is inappropriately specified or utilized. Here are some of those…

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Industrial Scissor Lift Tables: Mobile vs. Stationary

September 9, 2009

Mobile lift tables comparison to stationary lift tables

Mobile lift tables are increasing in popularity in many assembly and repair operations for a number of reasons, but using this flexible material handling device must be approached correctly, and with your eyes open. They provide more flexible use (move them where you want them) in everything from printing or assembly industries to pallet breakdowns in distribution. They’re great for flexible production lines or lean manufacturing lines or work cells where the ability to lift and move something is at a premium – in particular if you need to frequently reconfigure work areas.

Obviously, a lift table you can roll to where you need it is highly desirable, but what does that mobility cost you? And when should you choose stationary lift table over mobile?

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