Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

Can High Productivity and Warehouse Safety Really Co-exist?

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on May 14, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Productivity increases may be a priority in your facility, but achieving those benchmarks should not come at the price of safety. High productivity and warehouse safety can co-exist. It simply requires balancing these important objectives. graph-1019845_640

This is not the sole responsibility of shift managers, either. Everyone in the facility should clear away the mindset that productivity and safety are mutually exclusive goals.

The biggest challenge

The greatest challenge to achieving a balance of productivity and safety is that it is human nature to let basic safety protocols slide when time is limited and demands are high.

Monitoring and proactive management are key to achieving both.

Here’s how:

  • Stress and pressure can lead to poor choices and mistakes. Identify safety infractions occurring when workers are under pressure to produce more.
  • Look beyond productivity results and recognize when priorities become skewed and safety initiatives are regularly ignored.
  • Telematic monitoring identifies the “what, when and why” of safety infractions and can bring violations to your attention, like sounding an alarm when the speed of a forklift exceeds the pre-set speed limit.  
  • Consider putting workers on short work/rest cycles each shift. Implement short rest periods for operators under high production stress or that have been completing strenuous tasks. 

Share the combined objective

Make this a group effort. Teach your team that productivity should never compromise safety and it doesn’t pay off in the long run.

  • A safe warehouse environment increases productivity. Safety protocols reduce costly injuries and mishaps that slow everything in the facility down, and this saves time and supports high productivity.
  • Explain what to look out for. It is necessary to equip employees with the tools to expand their scope of working objectives to include “eyes for hazards and waste.”  
  • Everyone should look at how tasks are typically completed. Could revisions address time lost to poorly designed processes or workflow systems? 

For example, maybe you are moving product around more than necessary. If you reduce excessive product movement and transportation, the risk of slips and falls decreases and safety and workflow improve. 

Combining safety and process improvement can create a balance. Advanced telematics provides valuable insight that supports these efforts. For example:

  • Simultaneous utilization – provides data on utilization of vehicles and operators to help determine associated waste and excessive product transportation
  • Lock-out widget – provides data on vehicles and the length of time they have been out of service
  • No communication widget – provides date and time of last communication a vehicle has had with the server
  • Safety report card – uses KPIs to provide metrics on safety for operators and vehicles

Increased productivity and warehouse safety can co-exist. Fleet monitoring can help managers identify common safety infractions as they occur and create a strategy that supports both objectives.

Topics: injuries, warehouse traffic management, time management, safety improvements, goals, connected warehouse solutions, safety versus productivity, stress, limit risks