Covid-19 has had wide-ranging implications across industry as a whole and the effects on forklift safety are no exception. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more and more households are relying on e-commerce, putting enormous amounts of pressure on warehouses. With consumers becoming increasingly accustomed to new industry standards like next-day and even same-day delivery, warehouse capabilities are being stretched to maximum capacity as managers struggle to elevate their processes in tandem. Furthermore, the implications of the virus on employee presence are obvious. With millions around the world facing the risk of infection and strict quarantine for those who come into any sort of contact with it, staff attendance will be less predictable than previously. It may be that there is a shortage of employees with full forklift training or simply the case that those who are at work are more fatigued. Consequently, proper forklift training has never been more crucial to create a safe work environment.
The 2020 National Forklift Safety Day had to be held virtually due to the impact of Covid-19 but was able to stress the pressing need for better forklift safety practices. One of the most basic changes advocated was increased sanitation of equipment by operators after usage. Other recommendations included making sure workers followed social distancing guidelines, conducted rigorous self-monitoring, and adhered to consistent hand-washing policies.
All these new guidelines can have an adverse effect on the psyche, never mind how draining simply living alongside a pandemic has shown to be. However, with greater strain on supply chains than ever before, they are absolutely essential in making sure that forklift operators are able to remain fit and well enough to ensure the continued delivery of vital goods around the world.
It is equally important for operators to be extra vigilant while operating their vehicles to avoid collisions, injuries to people, and damage to goods and equipment. New AI technologies like people detection, object detection, and driver monitoring have the potential to play a pivotal role in helping operators to operate their equipment more safely and effectively by alerting them of potential hazards around their forklift and warning them when they are tired or breaking regulations about smoking and mobile phone usage.
With an estimated 61,000 minor injuries, 35,000 serious injuries, and 85 deaths per year in the USA alone occurring due to forklift accidents, the case for making significant investments in these emerging AI-powered safety technologies was already very strong before the pandemic. As pressure intensifies on companies to further optimize the efficiency of their logistics and warehouse operations to meet changing consumer expectations created by Covid-19, this case has become even stronger as management look for innovative new ways to rise to this daunting challenge while also protecting the safety and wellbeing of their frontline staff.
Learn how the AI-powered people detection and driver monitoring technologies in our new VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System can boost operator and worksite safety here.
Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Management graduate from Lancaster University.