Palleting is an important part of many industrial processes, but it can be dangerous if you don’t take proper safety precautions.
At first glance, palletizing may seem like a relatively risk-free task compared to others. It simply involves moving boxes of product from your production line onto waiting pallets. However, manual palletizing is a tough task with many hidden risks.
Even moving relatively light boxes can cause workers to suffer musculoskeletal injuries over time. These and other common hazards associated with manual palletizing can turn your end of line process into a liability.
In this article, we will explore some of the common hazards associated with palletizing. We’ll provide you with some tips and best practices on how to reduce the potential hazards associated with palletizing.
What makes palletizing a safety issue
There are various steps in the palletizing task that can cause safety issues.
Some steps that may be risky include:
Lifting and placing boxes — The least safe palletizing task is lifting boxes and placing them on waiting pallets. Improper lifting technique can cause back, shoulder, or arm strain. And it only takes one moment of loss of concentration to injure yourself.
Place box- Once the pallets have been moved, any minor inaccuracy in box placement can result in the instability of the entire load. Human workers are bound to make such mistakes in the end.
Handle box- When you rush to complete your pallet building task, you will sometimes drop some boxes. This may cause product damage, but is also a safety issue. The boxes might fall on someone or cause you to make unsafe body movements while trying to catch them.
Such safety issues can occur in any task. But the repetitive nature of palletizing means that it’s unavoidable in the long run.
What are the risks of manual palletizing against you?
Of the total compensation spent on workers in the US, 33.3% was given to workers suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). It is the most common injury associated with manual palletizing and other repetitive physical tasks.
Many health conditions are classed as MSD, including:
Sprains and strains
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Back and neck pain
Broken toes and ankles
This physical trauma can lead to long-term health complications.
Even the smallest mistake can keep workers out of work for days or even months. Pinched fingers, hands and toes can result from improper stacking of items on a pallet. An unbalanced load can cause you to trip or fall, resulting in sprains or sprains.
Tips for staying safe in pallet cells
The safety strategies you use elsewhere in your workplace also apply to palletizing. For example wearing safety equipment, following best practices for lifting heavy objects safely, staying alert around moving machinery and taking regular breaks.
To make manual handling tasks safer, we must eliminate the most risky aspects of the task. For palletizing, this means automating the repetitive lifting and placing of boxes.
Benefits of adding a robotic solution to increase safety
Adding a palletizing robot can be a powerful strategy to improve the work environment and quality of palletizing tasks and reduce safety concerns.
Robot palletizing solutions integrate seamlessly into existing processes and are designed for simplified setup and easy operation. They can handle multiple products and workflows with little to no human intervention.
We can relate the safety benefits of using robotic systems to the examples of palletizing risks listed above:
Lifting and placing boxes — By assigning the task of lifting and moving boxes to robots, you take them out of the hands of human workers. Thus, you provide a quality workforce with a quality of life at work. These workers can then be transferred to value-added tasks, increasing their engagement with the business.
Place box- Robotic systems reduce the risk of moving unbalanced pallet loads because your loads will be more stable. Robots work consistently and precisely, which means you can rely on structural integrity, increasing the predictability of costs (eg: mishandling, returns, product damage).
Handle box- A worker can stand near the robot without any problems. Although robots may occasionally drop items, such occurrences are much lower than for human workers. In addition, even if an item were dropped, there was no risk of harm to anyone as there were no human workers around.
By increasing the safety of your pallet cells with robots, you can help improve the quality of life for your workers, minimize costs associated with medical expenses, and reduce the negative impact of injuries on productivity.
Best practices to ensure optimal palletizing safety
How can you ensure that adding robots to a palletizing cell improves safety? After all, you don’t want to accidentally add a robot and increase your risk.
Cobots are designed to work safely with humans. However, a safety risk assessment is required for any facility wishing to implement cobot. Regarding safety, one must not only consider the risks of core activities and not reduce the risks as much as possible.
The first step with any robot deployment is to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.
Beyond a risk assessment, steps you can take to improve safety include:
Provide training to employees on how to use robots safely.
Design your work environment with safety in mind.
Develop procedures to proactively deal with potential safety issues.
How to get started automating your palletizing cells
The easiest way to start robot automation is to use a turnkey solution for pallet manufacturing. This reduces a lot of the headaches that usually come with adding robots to your process.
Find a solution that is likely to meet your needs and contact the supplier.
Remember that no solution is inherently safe in all situations. So start by identifying the potential risks and then work your way up from there.