Workplace Worker Fatigue

Advice from true warehouse experts

Issue link: https://resources.pathguide.com/i/1119952

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 2

PathGuide Technologies ● 22745 29 th Drive SE, Suite #150, Bothell, WA 98021 ● www.pathguide.com ● clientservices@pathguide.com USING A WMS TO COMBAT WORKER FATIGUE FATIGUE IN THE WAREHOUSE Although extended or unusual work shifts are not out of the ordinary in many warehouses, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) notes that "non- traditional shifts and extended work hours may disrupt the body's regular schedule, leading to increased fatigue, stress and lack of concentration." A few symptoms that warehouse managers should watch for as potential signs of worker fatigue include weariness, sleepiness, irritability, reduced alertness, lack of concentration and memory, giddiness and similar physical signs. We've all heard stories of employees taking mental health days or calling in sick in the name of an extra day of rest. This may be one way workers are addressing the issue of fatigue, but it points to a troubling trend – especially in the warehouse. An office worker may doze off at her desk because she's not getting enough sleep at night. But a tired forklift operator can quickly trigger one of the estimated 35,000 serious injuries that OSHA reports each year involving forklifts. At the same time, a tired warehouse worker is prone to taking shortcuts on the job. He may think to himself, "Why move the ladder to grab that box when I can simply climb the racking or push the box through to the other side with a long stick or pole?" Or another worker might forget to put on her high-vis safety vest, potentially resulting in one of those aforementioned forklift incidents. While co-workers might make light of finding an employee asleep at their workstation or in a seldom picked zone of the warehouse, this could be a sign of worker fatigue. Moreover, warehouse managers should look for other signs, such as a worker making noticeable inventory mistakes during certain periods of the day or having inconsistent pick rates compared to other workers and their historical averages. A quality warehouse management system can help identify these patterns for supervisors. TECHNOLOGY TO THE RESCUE As with nearly every facet of our daily lives, there are a number of solutions for technology to address this problem. There's certainly a role for small steps like ergonomically designed computer keyboards and mice, barcode scanners, holsters for RF terminals or headsets for voice applications. Wearable devices (like Fitbits) hold great promise as well; however, tracking a warehouse worker's every single movement can raise data privacy concerns, fears about workplace surveillance and, if not promoted right, can be just plain creepy. Today, a well-designed and implemented WMS can play a meaningful role in combating warehouse worker fatigue. For starters, metrics derived from a WMS provide visibility into whether workers are taking scheduled breaks – and for how long – based on when the employee logged on/off from an RF terminal. By its design, a WMS used properly will reduce the number of steps and motions for the warehouse worker. In addition, a single putaway and pick path for inventory handling ensures the stocking of inventory in the correct bin location for precise real-time inventory control.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of eBooks - Workplace Worker Fatigue