Despite the demand for quality warehousing space driving AI and robotics advancements, many warehousing staff are still at risk of injury according to materials handling specialists, Midland Pallet Trucks.
With online-only retail giants such as Amazon operating in excess of 200,000 robots globally, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the appetite for automation and robotics as e-commerce has surged.
The challenges caused by the pandemic have led many warehousing and retail companies to seek out ways to up productivity as consignment numbers reach record levels, but Phil Chesworth, Managing Director of Midland Pallet Trucks is warning warehouse owners and retailers that staff are still being put at risk of workplace injury due to a lack of robotic situational awareness and context when operational needs change.
He said, “With the warehousing and logistics sector of the future being a fusion of AI, robotics and human workers, retailers and warehouses need to consider the protection of their human and robotic assets and keep a firm focus on safety on the shop floor.
“As robots lack the dexterity and common sense of their human counterparts, there are a range of safety concerns surrounding robotics and certain physical tasks that are still being carried out by warehouse employees on a daily basis.”
Midland Pallet Trucks, a provider of high-quality lifting equipment including pallet trucks, manual stacker trucks and lift tables, has seen a surge in orders from warehouses that have already integrated AI and robotic technology into their operations but have the foresight to understand that the human element is still equally important to ensure smooth and safe operations.
Annually, the UK logistics sector reports around 28,000 non-fatal accidents at work with a high percentage of injuries being reported as musculoskeletal caused by improper lifting, a lack of training or correct lift equipment to help safeguard the wellbeing of warehouse workers.
Experts have also expressed concern that AI and robotic technology lacks the ability to make decisions based on safety and are only able to follow set programming that can lead to accidents and injury when circumstances change without warning, so the emphasis remains firmly on workers to keep themselves safe when operating new and traditional equipment such as lift tables and pallet trucks.