Warehouse injuries are common across all parts of America. Warehouse worker safety is a highly important issue, and it’s something that the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) take seriously. So should you, if you’re involved in any warehouse manager, supervisor or employee position.
Reducing warehouse worker injuries is a realistic goal. It’s also a noble and honorable one. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the U.S. warehousing and storage subsector employs over 1 million people in more than 17,000 private establishments, as of the most recent March 2018 statistics. Unfortunately, statistics also show that warehouses report one of the highest injury numbers of any industry. Most of these injuries are ergonomic-related and fall under the musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) category.
Warehouse employee safety is a huge concern for employers and managers. Reducing warehouse injuries reflects on the bottom line. Statistically, the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety reports that American companies lose $62 billion per year through workplace injuries. MSD injuries occur twice as often in warehouse settings compared to other general private industry settings. Many of these injuries have been pallet-handling related. One of the essential lines of equipment that has contributed toward reducing warehouse employee injuries has been the pallet dispenser. Before going immediately into the specifics of the pallet dispenser let's review why this machinery is essential in warehouse settings.
Statistics on Warehouse Injuries
Warehouse workers perform a wide range of jobs. They’re part of a nation-wide material handling industry that receives, stores and ships millions of freight tons each year. Common warehouse worker tasks include:
- Breaking bulk shipments into smaller packages
- Packaging shipments on pallets
- Lifting and storing palletized goods
- Retrieving valued products for end-use shipping
There is a lot of injury potential in handling pallets, as shown through information compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although the warehouse industry has a low number of fatal accidents, the business has an unacceptable level of serious and minor injuries that cause lost time and money. Here is some information offered by the BLS about warehouse injuries in 2016, 2017 and 2018:
- The U.S. warehouse industry had a reportable rate of 5 injuries per 100 full-time employees. That means a worker stands a 5% chance of being injured on the job during the year. With pallet handling being a potential injury cause, reducing warehouse injuries using pallet dispensers could be a straight-forward solution.
- Serious injuries happened at a rate of 3.7 incidents per 100 full-time workers. Those amounted to workers being off work, reassigned or transferred. As an example, manual pallet handling incidents can fall under this serious injury category. Using pallet dispensers in your warehouse could help prevent employee injuries.
- Less serious MSD injuries happen to an estimated 1.7 per 10,000 warehouse workers. Most of these injuries were not required to be reported to OSHA or the BLS. They amounted to individual back sprains, muscle pulls, ligament stretches and soft tissue bruising. Once again, manual pallet handling can be an example of a contributing cause. Using pallet dispensers could improve warehouse safety by taking heavier lifting tasks off workers, which could save workers from both minor and serious injuries.
Information from the National Safety Council (NSC) states that 35 percent of workplace injuries happen from overexertion. The NSC also reports that the warehousing, shipping and transportation sector is the number two American industry with the most amount of lost workdays due to workplace accidents. As the NSC states, prevention is power. Preventing injuries in the warehouse should be your top priority. That should involve investigating pallet dispenser benefits.
Reducing Warehouse Injuries With Pallet Dispensers
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment is America’s leading supplier for automated pallet handling machinery. In 1982, we began with the pallet inverter and then as the years progressed manufacture other lines of ergonomic machinery. We realized how many American warehouse workers were injured yearly through poor pallet handling techniques and as a result have made it our mission to make workers aware of the dangers of manual pallet handling. One of the breakthroughs made available through Cherry's Industrial Equipment for reducing manual pallet handling safety risks is the pallet dispenser.
What is a pallet dispenser? Industrial pallet dispensers reduce the need to manually handle empty pallets. These dependable machines automatically dispense pallets from a stack held inside the dispensing equipment. This lets a worker pick up a fresh pallet with a hand truck or forklift without having to manually touch the pallet.
If your warehouse is equipped with one or more automated pallet dispensers, there is no need for any worker to manually pick up pallets from a pile and wrestle them down to the floor. That includes all pallet forms — from the heavy traditional wood pallets to modern plastic, aluminum, steel and export pallets. You can be sure that the implementation of pallet dispensers in the overall warehouse workflow will bring a marked reduction of warehouse worker MSD injuries and complaints of strain from manual pallet lifting.
Investing in automated pallet dispensers is truly the safer alternative to manual pallet handling. When you consider that the weight of pallets can reach around 70-75 lbs., you can imagine the stress and strain a warehouse worker experiences when manually grabbing pallets and dragging them onto the floor. And then there’s the issue of manually stacking pallets on top of each other. An employee no longer needs to repeatedly do this throughout the day.
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment Manufactures and Supplies Safe Pallet Dispensers
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment supplies safe and fully automated pallet dispensers. There’s no need for your warehouse workers to wrestle with a heavy pallet again. We recognize the hazards associated with manual pallet moving. We understand information in the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Revised Lifting Equation that gives maximum weight lifting guidelines for American workers.
NIOSH defines the Recommended Weight Limit (RWL) as 51 lbs. This is the highest amount of weight safely allowed by a two-handed grip under ideal conditions. Those conditions consider what a healthy worker can lift over a substantial period without risk of back or MSD injuries. A comprehensive study by NIOSH and OSHA found the most common pallet-related injuries to be:
- Blood Vessels
The study looked at all manual material handling tasks that expose warehouse workers to physical risk factors. One of the biggest risks was from manually moving all types of pallets. NIOSH and OSHA found that pallet-related injuries were due to common movements needed to handle pallets. Not surprisingly, these dangerous movements were:
- Frequent reaching
Practically each one of these physical movements happens every time one of your warehouse workers has to handle a shipping pallet manually. The only way to reduce and prevent these MSD injuries caused by pallet handling is to replace your human power with an automated device. The solution will absolutely include an automated pallet dispenser.
Cherry’s automated pallet dispensers work with every conventional pallet size and material. Wood pallets still account for the majority of an estimated one billion pallets in United States circulation. Lighter weight plastic and metal pallets are gaining popularity, but the old wood pallet still owns the marketplace. Standard wood pallets can weight up to 50 lbs. and then there are the new block rental pallets that weigh a whopping 75 lbs. each. By regulation, block pallets aren’t allowed to be handled manually.
Investing in automated pallet dispensers is more than just fulfilling one of the top ten warehouse safety tips. It's the implementation of a deeper value - the overall safety and protection of your workforce. In this age, it’s not reasonable to expect workers to unnecessarily risk MSD or other injuries due to pallet handling. You can easily decrease their chance of injury and improve safety by incorporating Cherry’s pallet dispenser in your workflow process.
Other Tips for Reducing Warehouse Injuries
Pallet dispensers aren’t the only safe material handling tools that Cherry’s Industrial Equipment Supplies. We have an entire range of specialty equipment specifically designed and intended for warehouse and material handling applications. Our line includes:
- Pallet inverters
- Pallet changers
- Pallet tippers and upenders
- Freezer spacers and pallet retrievers
- Plastic pallets
- Washing equipment
- Lift tables
- Stretch wrappers
Investing in any or all of these top-quality, American-made material handling pieces will significantly improve your workers’ safety, not to mention their productivity. Reducing risks and improving production should be a main focus in your safety program and your overall business plan. Cherry’s can play a big role in your safety and success. To help you, here are some proven tips for reducing warehouse injuries:
1. Commit to Safety
Many leading companies know the value of a behavioral-based safety program. This core initiative started with an American company called Behavioral Science Technology (BST), now owned by the global safety force DEKRA. These safety visionaries realized that a lack of worker commitment was the cause of most industrial accidents.
BST set out to change the mindset in American workplaces from that of merely being compliant with safety rules and regulations to a workplace culture where everyone was completely committed to safety. That started from the top and worked down — all workers and managers bought into the program.
BST observed that almost all accidents resulted from worker behaviors where safety was ignored. Instead of forcing workers to be compliant, BST leaders taught the corporate culture to commit to proper safety practices. Where credible managers demonstrated their personal commitment, workplace accidents drastically dropped.
2. Communicate About Safety
Everyone in your warehouse should feel free to discuss safety issues openly. That means clear and respectful communication at all levels. There should be no “us-against-them” adversarial or animosity between labor and management. It requires managers being on the shop floor, being in safety meetings and staying accessible during frequent toolbox safety sessions. Communication requires a committed effort. It’s more than a verbal exchange of ideas and information.
In safely-run workplaces, like low accident rate warehouses, you’ll see safety communicated through signs, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety equipment. Where safety is part of the company culture, you’ll see it communicated through everything workers and managers do. They watch out for each other and observe behaviors. Where something or someone appears unsafe, these behaviors are respectfully corrected. For these companies, safety is the way they do business.
3. Train Employees
Safety and training go hand-in-hand. A properly trained workforce is a safe workforce. Training starts with orientation and familiarization. It starts the day a new employee signs on and continues throughout their career. Safe workers realize their training is a vital part of their skill set. That might be learning on the job where existing equipment operates daily, or it might be when a new piece of machinery like a pallet dispenser comes aboard.
Training principles haven’t changed over the years. It’s still a process of being verbally instructed in how something like a pallet dispenser operates. Then the worker has a demonstration before being allowed to operate it under supervision. Once the trainer feels the new operator has sufficient skills, they’re tested and finally certified. Training is ongoing in warehouses that practice behavioral-based safety. Refresher training happens at regular intervals as well as when upgrades occur with existing machines. Often, outside experts like staff from Cherry’s Industrial Equipment attend warehouses and conduct training sessions personally. This service is common when you invest in new material handling equipment from Cherry’s Industrial.
4. Eliminate Common Hazards
Every warehouse has common hazards, regardless of how safe you try to make your workplace. The trick is to know what they are and to eliminate as many as you can. In the safety business, it’s called hazard mitigation or risk management.
Clutter is one of the biggest risks in every workplace. It’s notably risky in warehouses where packing materials flow steady. Empty pallets, excess cardboard, stretch wrap ends, spools, straps, bands and label backing constantly litter the floor. Clutter contributes to slips, trips and falls — which is a leading injury category. The good news is that clutter is easy to manage with proper warehouse organization techniques, provided your workers are properly trained and motivated in behavioral-based safety.
Harmful substances should also be well marked and properly contained. Moving machine parts should have guards and pinch points must be properly marked. Forklifts and hand trucks pose serious threats unless operators have the right training. And energy sources have to be locked out and tagged when under service.
5. Invest in Safety Equipment
Big-ticket items like pallet dispensers and inverters aren’t the only safety equipment pieces you should invest in. Machines like these along with stretch wrappers, lift tables and pallet tippers certainly reduce the ergonomic strain that leads to warehouse injuries. However, you can make your warehouse a lot safer with smaller safety equipment investments.
For example, proper lighting goes a long way in preventing trips and falls. Signage lets you clearly communicate where hazards exist and what precautions are required. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is part of every modern worker’s dress. That includes hi-viz vests, hardhats, eye and ear protection, respirators, gloves and protective clothing. These are small investments with big paybacks. So are material handling devices like pallet trucks and pallet truck stops. And then there is the investment in doing risk assessments, designing safety circuits and obtaining proper certifications.
Every purchase you make in safety equipment has a return on investment. Being injury-free is the best reward your company can get, and it’s possible when you have the right equipment. It’s all available at Cherry’s Industrial Equipment. Browse our online catalog and view the sections on equipment, solution by industry, custom solutions, safety, services, and resources.
Cherry’s Line of Pallet Dispensers
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment is America’s industry leader in pallet handling technology. We’re at the forefront in distributing safe pallet dispensers to companies throughout the country.
We’re also committed to reducing your workplace injuries. Our pallet distribution systems stack and dispense large volumes of heavy wood pallets, lighter plastic pallets, aluminum pallets and steel pallets. We also supply specialty export pallets and rental pallets. Our U.S.-made pallet dispensers handle every type of pallet we sell. They do it safely and with the most cost-effectiveness you can find. Here’s a look at our pallet dispenser line:
- Light-Duty Pallet Stacker: This low-duty pallet stacker is Cherry’s entry-level model. It’s made with the same top-quality American materials and craftsmanship that upper-end pallet stackers are. However, it’s available at a fraction of the price. The light-duty pallet stacker is surprisingly powerful with a 1 HP, 110 volt motor and a 30-second cycle time. It has a 1,400 lb. capacity and holds 10-20 pallets at a time. Safety features include a flashing indicator light that signals the unit being full or empty. It also has safe push-button controls and a manual override.
- PD 4500 Single Pallet Dispenser: The PD 4500 is Cherry’s next-level pallet dispenser. It gives your team ground level pallet access with fast and efficient pallet stacking and retrieving. It’s designed with a revolutionary pallet dispensing system that you don’t find in competitor models. This 3,000 lb. capacity machine holds 40-45 pallets and discharges them at a fast six to seven pallet-per-minute rate. Powered by a 2 HP electric motor, the PD 4500 stands 20 feet tall. Safety features include a pallet magazine gate and optional foot switch.
- 90-Degree Discharge Pallet Dispenser: When you need a versatile pallet dispenser that discharges either directly in front or at a 90-degree angle, the PD 50-57 pallet dispenser from Cherry’s is for you. It has a 1,500 lb. capacity and accommodates 40 pallets at one time. Operating height is a compact eight feet, and the unit discharges pallets at 18 inches from the floor. Safety features on this 90-degree dispenser include fully automated controls that require no human interaction. That way your workers are never in the line of fire and risk injury.
- Overhead Gantry Pallet Dispenser: The RM-995 pallet dispenser is radically different from floor discharge models. It operates with an overhead gantry system that feeds pallets from the top. As a smaller, compact pallet dispenser, the RM-995 has an energy-efficient 1 HP electric motor. The weight capacity rates at 1,300 lbs., and it has a 15-pallet capacity. This overhead unit handles all pallet materials from wood to metal. Safety features include four pneumatic actuators with edge clam jaws to firm grip each pallet. UL certified precision hydraulics and electric components give you dependable performance, low maintenance and increased uptime.
- PD 9000 Double Pallet Dispenser: When you need full pallet dispensing capacity, you’ll want the PD 9000 Double Pallet Dispenser. No other machine on the market can deliver the output and speed of this automatic pallet handler. It’s a big player at 20 feet tall, a 6,000 lb. capacity and a cycle rate of 12-14 pallets per minute from its 90 pallet hold. The PD 9000 comes with a 2 HP Baldor electric motor and a 2,000 psi hydraulic system. Safety features top of the PD 9000’s appeal with an Allen Bradly electronic controller. With shared electronic and magazine capacity, this pallet dispenser provides safe, reliable and cost-reduced efficiency.
Partner With Cherry’s Industrial Equipment for Safe Pallet Dispensers
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment is your first choice supplier for safe pallet dispensers. We have nearly four decades in the warehouse and material handling equipment industry. At Cherry’s Industrial, we know the value of safety. That’s why every pallet dispenser and other material handling machine is designed and built to the highest safety standards.
You’re sure to reduce your warehouse injuries when equipping your workers with one of Cherry’s high-quality and exceptionally safe pallet dispensers. Those days of worker MSD injuries and lost time from pallet handling injuries will be gone. In their place, Cherry’s Industrial Equipment guarantees you to have the best warehouse productivity with the best safety record.
You’ll also receive the best benefits when choosing a Cherry’s Industrial Equipment pallet dispenser. Along with safety, you’ll benefit from efficiency, accessibility to service and an improved bottom line. All this fits with our core values of keeping American warehouse workers safe and valued members of your caring company culture.