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Workplace Safety: Short Distances, Big Problems

The most costly workplace safety problems are often the least obvious hazards. Safety risks that cause death or dismemberment would understandably be at the top of any safety manager’s list, and also have the benefit of commonly recognized technology and innovation designed to mitigate those risks. But forklifts and hardhats can’t address the musculoskeletal injuries that result from moving equipment on and off of a storage system, or pushing a heavy-laden cart the last few feet. In reality, heavy objects moved short distances can still cause damage, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs, fines, and insurance premium hikes.

Short Distances and Workplace Injury

At first glance, it may seem unnecessary and a waste of resources to invest in motorized equipment to accomplish small tasks. However, small yet ergonomically hazardous movements are often repetitive in a workplace environment, which exacerbates their cumulative impact. Serious musculoskeletal injuries such as carpal tunnel, elbow strains, and back strains are the leading cause of workplace disability and frequently result from small, repetitive tasks like lifting boxes onto shelving and pushing supply or transfer carts a relatively short distance. Those small movements add up over time, and cause U.S. businesses $20 billion in direct costs per year. Additional work stoppage, employee turnover, product defects, and resource expenditures can balloon financial impact to such a degree that the average business will have to earn an extra $8 million in sales just to cover the full impact of $260,000 in MSD costs. Investing in an ergonomic motorized solution now actually saves money down the line and keeps your employees healthy enough to stay with your company long-term.

At this point you might be thinking, “Well, we’ll just make it official policy to have several employees lift/push/pull this heavy load any time we need to move it.” Establishing workplace safety policies is a good thing, but it’s important to understand that not every policy will be strictly adhered to. When it’s crunch time, the operation can’t stop or slow down, and employees often take it upon themselves to bend the rules in order to get the job done with fewer hands on deck. That’s how accidents happen, and businesses are still on the hook for the consequences despite having a policy in place to prevent injuries. It’s more effective and efficient to implement a workplace safety strategy that can be realistically executed every time.

Easy Transport Solutions for Short Distances

Implementing a motorized solution doesn’t have to be complicated or overly costly. We understand that motorizing an entire fleet of carts for the purpose of transporting heavy loads ten feet across a shop floor may not be for you. For such an application, we might suggest using a single tugger to safely transport all of your manual carts instead. EKT engineers are skilled at identifying alternative solutions, and aren’t afraid to get creative when standard equipment proves inadequate. Where a standard motorized cart alone may not solve the issue of pushing heavy boxes up onto a shelf, adding a scissor lift platform with rollers can. Custom shelving or storage bins added to a cart can also keep materials closer to shelf or work table height and reduce lifting strain. These are just a few of the customizations we can make to a motorized solution. With a solid understanding of your process and operation, our engineers will make the most of your investment with us to create a targeted ergonomic strategy that saves your operation costs and labor in down the line.

To find out more about ergonomic solutions for small work cells or short distances, connect with one of our engineers to schedule a walk-through via the Contact page, and we’ll get started on ensuring that small problems don’t become big ones for you and your business.

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