How to Avoid Drift and Other Worker Strains in the Warehouse
The rhythm and blues band, The Drifters, was before my time, but we’ve all heard of them (at least those of us over 40). The band was known for some blockbuster tunes back in the day, from Under the Boardwalk to This Magic Moment, or Up on the Roof. But I digress. While there’s a place for The Drifters in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, there’s no place for drifters in the warehouse.
What I’m talking about is drifting carts that veer left or right and create a lot of stress and fatigue for the workers who have to get them back on track as they scan pallets, print labels and conduct daily warehouse activities. All they’re really trying to do is to get from point A to B, but they’re wrangling and wrestling with wayward carts that act more like kids in a candy store. And, it’s not just warehouse workers, we’ve all experienced drift. Have you ever been in a grocery store and thought you lucked out because you got the very last shopping cart in the stall? There’s a reason why no one wanted it, because it was pivoting across aisles like a man possessed.
The problem with warehouse carts is that the four casters swivel, but in order to remain on track, the back two must be vertically locked. Not all carts provide a lever to vertically lock them, and that’s how you can tell the quality carts from the bad ones. Avoid the staggering ones that look like they’re trying to escape.
Not only do drifting carts damage products as they fall off and on to all-so-unforgiving warehouse floors, but they cause worker injury and motion fatigue. It can be like herding buffalo over and over as you work to just stay on the straight and narrow.
Even without drift, simply maneuvering carts – especially when they’re loaded with a laptop, barcode scanner and printer – can make you wonder if the wheels are even serving a purpose. A worker-friendly cart should have forward-facing handles that can help workers easily steer their carts and maneuver around immovable devices instead of crashing through them. You would be surprised to see how many carts don’t have user-friendly steering. Just think about that guy who rode your bumper and then veered into your lane when passing you doing 80 mph, or the short lady driving five-miles an hour on the interstate, these people could be sharing a warehouse aisle with you. For goodness sakes, make it as easy as possible for them to steer!
And, when it comes to motion fatigue, staring at a screen can cause lots of it as well. The problem is that lots of carts have fixed heights, so that depending on your height, any screen mounted on them would require you to crane your neck up or down. This can cause back and neck problems, as well as overall alignment issues. If only it were as simple as agreeing to exclusively hire 5-foot-8 workers. In this day and age when it’s becoming impossible to staff up a warehouse, try adding a height requirement and see how far that gets you. Before selecting a cart, think of all your vertically challenged or towering workers. If you wouldn’t wear a one-size-fits all pair of pants, then for gosh sake, don’t give workers a one-size-fits-all cart.
There are so many hazards in the warehouse, and this month, we shared a few. Selecting the right cart, however, can not only remove repetitive motion injuries, take strain out of worker movement but also make the journey down aisles and across stations safer and effortless. Now isn’t that kind of wonderful? (for you millennials, that’s another Drifters song).
Have any funny or inspiring tales from the warehouse you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them. Give us a shout at 978-532-04444, or here.
STEVE SHAHEEN: CEO & Founder
Steve has worked in the mobile workstation and battery systems business since they became popular for use in healthcare and was a Value Added Reseller for over 30 years. He co-founded Definitive Technology Group to help companies in a wide range of industries solve workflow problems and decrease costs by leveraging the power of mobility. Steve enjoys offshore fishing, surfing, martial arts and spending time with his family.