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Seasonal hiring surges are expensive and dangerous

Article by Michael Trimmer
man who has had an accident in a warehouse

 

Seasonal hiring surges seem like the only way to deal with sudden surges in demand. But are businesses ignoring the sheer level of cost and danger involved in these practices simply because of a perceived lack of options? When it feels like there’s no other solution to a problem, any path through might be preferable. But just how much are businesses really tolerating in the name of expediency and keeping up with demand?

The costs

On some level, every business knows that seasonal hiring is expensive, but often it is only when the costs are fully laid bare for all to see that we really get to grips with what is actually happening. The following represents each stage of the hiring and deployment of seasonal warehouse employees. When laid out in this fashion, the vastness of what is being done here becomes more than shocking.

Recruitment advertising: Warehouses will need to find the right job advertising platforms or third party recruitment agencies. Both of these services come with substantial costs, since they know they work as gatekeepers for necessary resources of warehouse-utilising businesses.

Recruitment processing: After positions are advertised, your business’s human resources team will need to select workers who they can be confident will work to the level of skill and accuracy that the warehouse needs. This could well be an extended and expensive use of your HR team’s time.

Operational & safety instruction: After selection new hires need training. This includes specific warehouse skills and procedures, and general safety instruction that has to be completed and accounted for due to legal stipulations. A time-consuming process that must be done on the clock.

Team management: You must now ensure that new staff have all the direction and monitoring to keep them working at the best possible capacity. This requires help from experienced warehouse staff. Valuable time from valuable workers being directed away from direct order fulfilment.

Pay practicalities: The actual salary money is just one part of wage expenses. There is admin around accounts, taxes, national insurance, and much more. This is difficult enough with domestic employees. If foreign nationals in the mix, other complications arise.

Benefits procedures: Shorter-term staff are not necessarily exempt from issues of holidays, benefits, and flexible shift patterns. This will all have to be dealt with for every employee to some extent. This can get more complicated with particular exemptions and special instances.

Unexpected incidents: New and inexperienced staff are naturally mistake-prone. Any seasonal hiring surge will feature more errors than normal. This takes extra time and energy from both experienced staff and the management team. An expensive use of valuable resources.

The dangers

With more people working in closer proximity with less familiarity with workhouse work generally, and proper safety processes in particular, accidents are bound to happen.

Newer workers will be unfamiliar with their own limits, so exactly when they hit the point of over-exertion will be unclear. Without knowing the workplace environment as well, seasonal workers will not instinctively understand potential hazards and other dangers before they emerge. Plus, with the overall workspace being more crowded and busy as seasonal demand swings into high gear, the margin for error drops as the room to manoeuvre gets shrunk.

According to the US-based legal firm Gerald Brody and Associates, the seven most common categories of warehouse workplace injuries are as follows:

  • Forklift-related accidents: These include impacts from moving forklifts, to limbs becoming impacted or trapped by overturned forklifts.
  • Object impacts: This can involve collapsing pallets or mis-shelved item stacks, potentially causing concussions and/or muscle and bone trauma.
  • Inter-object trapping: Hands, fingers, feet, and even entire limbs can become trapped between vehicles, equipment or moving items in the process of being stacked or shelved.
  • Hazardous material contact: Depending on items and their containment procedures, a wide variety of injuries and ailments can be inflicted if hazardous materials are mishandled.
  • Trips, slips, and falls: These can be caused by anything from a water leak to spilt powders, oil overflows, discarded packing material, and much more.
  • Repetitive stress injury: Even simple tasks can cause issues if done too quickly or with too much repetition. Joint problems, muscle injuries, and carpal tunnel strains are common.
  • Over-exertion-related injury: Back and neck strain, muscle overstretch, and joint damage problems are all common injuries when warehouse workers overextend themselves.

These kinds of issues are clearly seen as seasonal-hiring-surge related thanks to data from the single largest case study. Amazon have discovered that Prime Day and Cyber Monday are extreme highpoints in the happening of serious warehouse-related injuries.

Warehouse automation – the safer alternative

When it comes to the seasonal surge in demand, an automated warehouse offers a much safer alternative. Rather than needing to hire vast numbers of under-experienced new staff, a warehouse using flexible robotics can instead make use of additional robots. These will accelerate the overall process without exposing staff to additional hazards. Thanks to the seamless coding of the RCS (robotic control system) your warehouse will have no trouble integrating additional AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) on a short-term basis.

With a goods-to-person solution, staff only directly encounter the robots at one stage of the overall process. This is known as one-touch-fulfilment and allows for the safest possible solution. Among the principal advantages of warehouse automation is its ability to allow for minimum possible direct interaction between the moving processes of warehouse work and the wider body of staff members. This keeps your workers safer, while simultaneously making your warehouse faster.

To discover more about how modern warehouse automation works, come and witness it for yourself. Visit the Wise Robotics Demonstration Centre, the first of its kind in Europe. Wise Robotics offers you the ability to see warehouse robotics in operation, up close and in person. Discover why so much of your sector is going to change radically, and why you need to be joining the automation generation.

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