Warehouse safety has always been top of mind for facility managers, especially as organizations began reassessing their health and wellness protocols while navigating the pandemic. But with warehouses contending with volume increases due to supply chain volatility, shippers must prioritize workforce safety while continuing to meet high demands.

Like many logistics and supply chain challenges, the solution lies in data. By investing in data-powered wearable technologies and ergonomics, warehouses can meet the need for enhanced safety while streamlining operations, maximizing productivity, and improving innovation.

Below, we share our top three reasons why wearable technology and ergonomic data will be the most crucial factor to safe warehouse operations.

1. Real-time associate movement feedback

Warehouse associates often don’t realize they’ve made a hazardous movement until they’re feeling its effects the next day. Through wearable technologies, they can receive real-time feedback to ensure notoriously risky movements like lifting, twisting, and bending can be done safely.

Often clipped to the collar, these devices employ advanced Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and machine learning to develop a baseline for normal movements. The instant an abnormal and potentially hazardous movement is detected, workers are alerted to the risk through audible and vibration biofeedback. In the moment, instantaneous warnings allow workers to quickly adjust their movement or position to avoid injury. Supervisors also have the ability to review individual performance periodically on Dashboards to provide coaching feedback.  

Wearable technologies glean long-term benefits as well; by helping associates gain greater awareness of their bodies, they can form new healthy movement habits over time that protect their musculoskeletal well-being for years to come.

  1. Mitigating risk through ergonomic warehouse design

Just as wearable technology allows associates to adjust their movements to protect themselves, ergonomics allows facility managers to adjust the warehouse environment to protect associates. Ergonomics, or the study of how we operate in our workplace environment, is a key component of designing a safer and healthier warehouse.

By collecting, analyzing, and leveraging wearable technology, workplace incident, and employee behavior data, facility managers can redesign their warehouses to mitigate risk and avoid possibly dangerous workplace situations completely. For instance, a facility manager could assess wearable technology data and identify that pickers in a specific area of the warehouse are more prone to hazardous movements that can impact the back. Upon investigation, heavier items are discovered to be stored too high, requiring high hazard movements. The facility manager can quickly rearrange the layout to ensure all heavy items are kept at an easily accessible height, ensuring pickers can complete their work safely and efficiently.

  1. Data-driven training that keeps up with employee needs

In a warehouse setting, safety training should never go unchanged. As new employees join, new technologies are integrated and new data revealed, safety managers must continuously alter and evolve their training procedures to ensure all employees have the tools to create a culture of safety. Keeping an open dialogue surrounding wearable devices will enable associates to become comfortable with and fully understand the purpose of these devices and how they will contribute to an overall safer environment.

By analyzing a wealth of data aggregated from wearable devices, machine handling equipment (MHE) telematics solutions, and employee performance reports, safety managers can tailor their trainings to their workforce’s needs. Whether long-term employees need a refresh on OSHA best practices or new hires need training on lifting, safety managers have the data-driven insight to fill any gaps in education before they become dangerous.

With warehouse volumes constantly in flux, associates on the floor are busier than ever – meaning the risk of workplace injury is unfortunately greater as well. Facility and safety managers alike must prioritize safety to put their people first and keep operations streamlined. Managers can support their employees with wearable technology and ergonomic data powered by machine learning, providing them with the tools they need to safely succeed. And by working with a well-reputed third party logistics (3PL) provider like Kenco, these solutions and best practices can be seamlessly integrated into existing infrastructure and processes without missing a beat. To learn more about how we innovate with workforce safety in mind, visit Kenco’s Dedicated Warehousing Page.