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 consists of moving product boxes from your production line to waiting pallets. However, manual palletizing is a daunting task with many hidden risks.
Even moving relatively light boxes can cause musculoskeletal injuries to workers over time. These common hazards and other risks 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 of palletizing.
Why palletization is a security issue
There are several different steps in the palletizing task that can cause safety issues.
Some steps that can be risky include:
- Lifting and placing boxes — The most dangerous palletizing task is lifting the boxes and placing them on the waiting pallets. Improper lifting technique can cause back pain, shoulder pain, or arm pain. And it only takes a moment of loss of concentration to hurt.
- Box placement — Once the pallets have been moved, minor inaccuracies in box placement can cause the entire load to become unstable. Human workers are bound to make mistakes like that at some point.
- Box handling — When you rush to complete your pallet building task, you may knock over some boxes. This may cause product damage, but is also a safety issue. The box could fall on a person or cause you to make dangerous body movements while trying to catch them.
Such security issues can occur in any task. However, the repetitive nature of palletizing means it is unavoidable in the long run.
What are the risk costs associated with manual palletizing?
of all workers’ compensation expenditures in the United States, 33.3% is devoted to workers who suffer from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). It is the most common injury associated with manual palletizing and other repetitive physical tasks.
Many conditions are classified as MSD, including:
- Sprains and muscle strains
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back and neck pain
- Broken Toe and Ankle Sprained and strained
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 or feet can occur due to incorrect stacking of items on a pallet. An unbalanced load can cause a fall, causing 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 of loads safer, we need to eliminate the most risky aspects of this 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, quality of palletizing tasks and reduce safety concerns.
Robot palletizing solutions integrate seamlessly into existing processes and are designed for simplified setup and easy use. 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 palletizing risks listed above:
Lifting and placing boxes — By entrusting the task of lifting and moving boxes to robots, you take them out of the hands of human workers. By doing so, you offer a better quality of life to qualified personnel at work. These workers can then be assigned to tasks with higher added value, which increases their commitment to the company.
Box placement — 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 cost predictability (e.g. mishandling, returns, product damage).
Box handling — A worker can stand near the robot without any problems. While robots can occasionally drop objects, the frequency of these incidents is much lower than that of human workers. In addition, even if an object falls, there is no risk of injury to anyone as there are no human workers nearby.
By increasing the safety of your pallet cells with robots, you can help improve the quality of life of your workers, reduce medical expenses related costs and reduce the negative impact of injuries on productivity.
Best Practices for Optimal Pallet Safety
How can you ensure that adding robots to a palletizing cell improves safety? After all, you don’t want to accidentally add bots and increase your risk.
Cobots are designed to work safely with humans. However, a risk assessment is required for any facility wishing to implement cobot. With regard to safety, it is not only necessary to take into account the risks of the main activities and reduce the risks as much as possible.
The first step in implementing any bot is conducting a proper risk assessment.
Beyond risk assessment, here are some steps you can take to improve security:
Provide training to employees on the safe use of robots.
Design your work environment with safety in mind.
Develop procedures to proactively deal with potential security issues.
How to start automating your palletizing cell
The easiest way to start robot automation is to use a turnkey solution for pallets. This eliminates many of the problems typically associated with adding robots to your process.
Find a solution that seems 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 work your way up from there.