Good Vibrations for Deaf Warehouse Worker
Forklift anti-collision technology lets deaf employee work safely among lift trucks
Safety systems generally give acoustic and optical warnings to alert personnel to the risk of collisions in the warehouse - but if sounds cannot be heard in potentially dangerous situations, other measures need to be put into place. This was the case with shoe wholesaler P+P Schuhvertrieb GmbH, where a deaf employeee works at its central distribution centre in Heinsdorfergrund. By using ELOKON’s UWB based personal safety system ELOshield, the company was able to ensure maximum safety for all operatives in the warehouse.
Maximum safety – maximum productivity
The 1,000m² central distribution centre consists of two warehouses: a larger one designated for storage and, within this, linked by a staircase, is a smaller one where the packing of goods is carried out. There are 21 racking bays and a Jungheinrich ETV 214 reach truck looks after material flow in the larger hall, where two of the 15 aisles are narrow aisles. As a consequence, the safety distance between the most extended parts of the forklifts and the racking is less than half a metre on both sides. This obviously makes for high density storage and efficient picking, but it also poses considerably more risks for warehouse personnel compared to wide aisle operation. A second vehicle – a Hawker pallet truck, is also in operation in the larger warehouse.
A special solution for special conditions
P&P, a prominent German shoe wholesaler, wanted to accommodate a deaf worker in its main warehouse. She was able and eager to perform a full range of tasks, but because many of those tasks required working in close proximity to lift trucks, management feared for her safety.
Normally, people working around lift trucks can rely on audible alerts to know when the trucks are nearby. For example, lift truck drivers are trained to toot their horns when approaching intersections. But of course, in this case, a sound warning would not solve the problem.
How it works
ELOshield is a wireless warning system for both lift trucks and pedestrians. Like similar systems, it provides acoustic and visual alerts to lift truck drivers when their vehicles approach pedestrians. But ELOshield also includes pedestrian modules — worn on an armband or in a safety vest pocket — that vibrate as well as flash a visual warning.
In addition, ELOshield has two programmable detection zones. They can be shaped as polygons or circles, with a range of up to 50 feet around each lift truck. And the two zones can trigger different reactions, including slowing the truck down automatically.
Together, these features made ELOshield an ideal solution to allow the deaf worker to function in the workplace. As P&P’s managing director said, “We are delighted that ELOshield’s extra layers of protection have empowered our deaf employee to contribute fully and safely in our warehouse.”
Win-Win-Win-Win, From Productivity to Insurance Benefits
Enabling the deaf employee to work safely near lift trucks made everyone involved happy. The employee was grateful that her disability did not prevent her from working alongside her colleagues. P&P was thrilled because the worker was happier and more productive. A local vocational training center for the deaf, which supported the project, was glad that its advocacy helped the deaf worker. And a national insurance provider, which helped defray project costs, was gratified by the resulting safer work environment.