Thanks to the exponential growth in development of automated technologies–everything from machine learning and AI through to delivery drones, automated vehicles, and advanced robots and machinery–many warehouse operators are struggling to hedge their bets on what the future–its needs and demands, its logistics, and its workforce–will look like. While maintaining human workforce safety from elevated pedestrian walkways to the trusty high-vis vest.
Compounding the situation is a rapid expansion in online purchase activity–the Ecommerce factor. The proliferation of out-of-the-box Ecommerce website solutions and the already immense and intensifying reach of Amazon has seen online sales well and truly explode–more consumers than ever are making purchases online, increasingly on their mobile devices.
Meanwhile, continued economic and technological development around the world will see new markets, some virtually untouched by the antennas of global commerce, emerge and begin to use their newfound capital for online spending. No, we’re not talking about the incredible rise of markets such as China, where the online marketplace experience has well and truly matured, even without the monolithic presence of Google or other stateside tech giants–just try getting around Hong Kong or Beijing without a WeChat account.
You may have heard recently that Facebook want to arm the African continent with internet access through innovative offshore infrastructure. Make no mistake, they’re not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts–they’re running out of users and more importantly, users with dollars to spend. Meanwhile, other tech giants are similarly discussing plans for how they can expand their reach and their bottom lines not with new verticals in existing markets, but by creating new markets from scratch in places such as India and the African subcontinent.
The opportunity is everywhere and in order to fully leverage the opportunities that abound, investments will have to be made. But while you’re investing in new technology and a new workforce (one Forbes article claimed the ecommerce sector has created some 355,000 new jobs since 2007, far exceeding the 51,000 jobs created in the general retail sector in that time frame and much has been made of US state governments vying for the opportunity to house Amazon’s next base operations), it’s important to consider whether there’s accompanying investment being made in the pedestrian safety barriers and well being of those workers.
In Australia, thankfully, workplace accidents and deaths have been on a steady decline since the mid-2000s, thanks in large part to a countrywide focus on workplace safety, as well as new innovations in workplace safety and technology and new means of educating workers and management alike on the importance and the overall logistics of workplace safety.
Now certainly isn’t the time to let this focus lapse. Workplace injuries can be devastating for employees and their families and costly to employers, whether in the form of litigation or worker compensation, as well as rehiring and training. At the end of the day, no employer wants to see any of his or her workers stricken with an injury they sustained on the warehouse floor and certainly no employer wants to be one of the declining numbers of warehouses to experience workplace fatalities.
The time to ask yourself what you’re doing to ensure the safety of your warehouse employees is now. From elevated pedestrian walkways, to rack safety traps, an investment in warehouse pedestrian barriers safety will ensure your operation is ready for the foot traffic the Ecommerce industry is set to bring your way.