Advanced, ergonomic warehouse equipment is designed to do two things: Make work safer and boost productivity. The best material handling solutions accomplish both of these goals simultaneously, year-round. However, as the snow, sleet, and ice pile up on our docks and in our yards, there’s even greater reason to rely on mechanical assistance for warehouse workers.
Extreme weather has all sorts of effects on the supply chain. Freezing roads, white-out conditions on waterways, and grounded flights can all slow down the flow of goods that comprises the backbone of the world economy. There’s no reason to let injured workers at warehouses and distribution centers add to the winter’s toll on business, however. Preventing injury — especially during the holiday logistics rush — should remain the primary goal of investments in warehouse equipment.
Here’s how those decisions can help insulate workplaces from the effects of winter weather.
The Link Between Cold Weather and Increased Occupational Injury Rates
The medical research is mixed on exactly how much winter temperatures affect workers, but there is plenty of evidence that suggests extreme weather — both cold and hot — is bad for workplace safety. One Spanish study estimated that almost 3 percent of all workplace injuries were attributable to “nonoptimal ambient temperatures.”
Physical therapists also point out that a combination of reduced exercise, tighter muscles, and posture adjustments in an attempt to preserve heat leave us more vulnerable to stiffness and pain during cold weather. When warehouse workers start their shifts with stiff, painful muscles, they are more vulnerable to developing musculoskeletal disorders as they exert themselves.
Then there are the effects of the winter weather to deal with. In 2014, U.S. workers suffered more than 42,000 lost-work injuries associated with ice, sleet, or snow. This is a sobering figure for warehouses, where docks are frequently open to the elements, and janitorial staff must make multiple trips to outdoor dumpsters.
Choosing Warehouse Equipment for Winter Safety
The good news is that any warehouse with a comprehensive ergonomics program in place will be largely prepared for the winter temperatures. Work-positioning equipment like Lift Tables and Tilt Tables reduce strain on already-tired-out muscles by keeping all tasks within a comfortable position relative to the body. Material Carts and Warehouse Trailers omit the need to carry loads across the floor. And Bin Dumpers, along with Mobile Bins, reduce the risks associated with handling waste, especially outdoors in the cold.
Remember that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration tells us that removing ergonomic hazards is the best way to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. That’s especially true when the temperature drops significantly, and it is a task best achieved by careful investment in advanced warehouse equipment.
“Ergonomics: Solutions to Control Hazards.” OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2019.
Greviskes, Amber. “Do Your Muscles Hurt More When It’s Cold Out?” WebMD. WebMD LLC, 2019. Web. 11 Nov. 2019.
Martinez-Solanas, Erica, et. al. “Evaluation of the Impact of Ambient Temperatures on Occupational Injuries in Spain.” NLM. Environmental Health Perspectives, 11 Jun. 2018. Web. 11 Nov. 2019.
“TED: The Economics Daily – 42,480 work injuries involved ice, sleet, or snow in 2014.” BLS. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27 Apr. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2019.
“Winter Aches and Pains.” Utah. University of Utah Health, 23 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2019.