Tag Archives: Employee Safety


Businesses across the nation are adjusting to slimmer profit margins. The Financial Times reports that price spikes, labor shortages, and supply chain struggles are continuing to eat into profits while consumers are spending less in response to inflation.

As a business leader, you can discover new levels of profitability and boost your bottom line by maximizing efficiency in the workplace.

This is particularly important today, as modern workers report that they are only productive for 2 hours 53 minutes per day. As a leader, reclaiming this lost productivity should be your top priority while keeping staff healthy and happy.

Cost Savings

Rising costs will undermine your profits if you fail to adjust. This is true regardless of what stage of business growth you are in today. Even well-established brands can suddenly go bust if they ignore rising costs and become overleveraged with debt.

Continuously re-evaluating your operations will help you discover costly bottlenecks and address fundamental issues. Adopting a process improvement mindset can help you respond to industry changes and remain relevant for consumers. Further cost-saving benefits of process improvement include:

Embracing process improvement can improve your firm’s ability to meet compliance requirements. This is helpful if you plan on growing your business and want to avoid fees and fines due to ineffective compliance protocols.

Employee Wellbeing

Your employees are the backbone of your business. Without them, efficiency would grind to a halt. However, many business leaders overlook employee wellbeing when profitability starts to decline.

If you want to enhance your operational efficiency, then keeping your employees healthy and happy should be a priority. Unhealthy, unhappy staff are extremely expensive, as you will be forced to pay for sick leave and will have to bring on new hires when they leave for greener pastures.

Stress can have a profound impact on employee well-being and health, too. Left untreated, chronic stress can increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. Employees who are stressed are also more likely to suffer from oral ailments like gum disease, tooth decay, and cankers. This will sideline your employees and leave you short-staffed when you need employees the most.

Increasing Safety

Nothing will derail your business like an accident at work. In 2021 alone, workplace accidents and injuries cost a total of $167 billion. Injuries and accidents also resulted in 103,000,000 lost days of work, as many employees have to take extended time away after a mishap.

As a business owner, you should explore efficiency upgrades that improve safety. Even simple changes, like reducing workers’ workload, can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Folks are far less likely to make a misstep when they are not overworked, burnt out, and fatigued by their workload.

You can improve worker safety and increase business efficiency by embracing the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT tech, like electronic logging devices, can improve safety and efficiency by tracking metrics related to employee safety. This is particularly important if you work in high-risk fields like delivery driving. Keep a tab on key data points like speed and braking. This reduces the risk of accidents and helps you retrain certain staff.

Customer Service

In today’s competitive business environment, you need to stand out from the crowd by providing excellent customer service. Effective, efficient customer service can improve brand loyalty, minimize damaging reviews, and convince consumers to make repeat purchases.

A recent survey of 3,200 consumers by Super Office found that 12% of all consumers expect a response time of under 15 minutes, while 46% say they want to hear back within 4 hours. This suggests that efficient, fast responses are key to heightened customer satisfaction.

If you cannot afford to employ a fleet of customer service agents, consider investing in automation software instead. Automated chatbots are capable of answering FAQs quickly and accurately. They can also send pre-generated responses to folks who get in contact during out-of-office hours. This can reassure customers that their query has been seen and that they will get a response soon.

Foregrounding efficiency in your customer service department can reduce the amount you spend on returns, too. US retailers predict that $761 billion of items will be returned every year. This can eat into profits and derail your day-to-day operations. You cannot avoid all returns, but you can mitigate many hasty returns with responsive, positive customer service.


Automating your business is not just good for customer service. Embracing the future of AI and automation can improve your efficiency and bolster your bottom line. Strategic changes, like automating your customer relationship management (CRM) software, can reduce the amount of time staff spend on menial responsibilities and free up time for creative, profit-boosting tasks.

If you are new to the idea of automation, start with low-hanging fruit like:

As your firm grows, you can explore more complex automation strategies. For example, if you currently run an e-commerce business, you can use automated software to keep stock of your inventory and automatically order new materials when supplies run low. This reduces lead time at your firm and ensures that you are always ready to take on new orders.


Effective communication keeps internal and external stakeholders happy and can maximize your operational efficiency. This is crucial when trying to boost your profits, as you’ll need buy-in from investors and employees alike.

As a business leader, you can guide your firm to higher levels of profitability and productivity by improving your own communication skills. Ask plenty of questions when conversing with other employees and focus on listening to them without interruption. If you struggle to listen without jumping in, consider taking notes to channel your thoughts and show your staff that you care about their insights.

You should review your communication strategy on an annual basis. This will ensure that your firm is up-to-date with the latest communication tech and can help you identify potential issues in your current strategy. A well-planned communication strategy improves collaboration in your company, too. This reduces the risk of costly oversights and helps you get more out of your most talented employees.


Boosting your bottom line is about more than cutting costs and raising your prices. Spark a period of profitable growth at your firm by embracing an ethos of process improvement. Continuous process improvement also helps you take advantage of breakthroughs in business tech like CRM automation, IoT tracking, and customer service chatbots. In sum, process improvement isn’t just ensuring short-term solutions, it’s ensuring the long-term success of your company.

*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.

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If you take in the expanse of a shop floor from a high vantage point, you’ll quickly be reminded of how much coordination is required to keep the operation functioning smoothly. To the trained eye – and probably the untrained eye as well – analogies with a symphony come to mind. Just as you think you recognize the pattern in the flows of people, machines, and materials, something changes, and a new pattern emerges.

Of course, many may find this analogy to be overly romanticized. A factory can just as easily be a messy, less-than-elegantly orchestrated affair. That’s especially true when you consider the sounds more so than the sights. It’s not a symphony, it’s cacophony. It’s not elegance, it’s noise – 80 decibels’ worth in the average factory, approaching OSHA’s recommended exposure limit of 85 decibels.

A brief history

The concept of the factory as it’s known today was born in the Industrial Revolution, in the late 1700s and early 1800s. But the premise of all that turbulent innovation was always the same: find more ways to amplify human power – with water power, with steam power. And exerting power is inherently noisy.

By the early decades of the 20th century the shop floor that’s familiar to us today had largely taken form. And noise levels reached new highs. For this we can credit (and blame) the city of Milwaukee, which at the time was the world’s Silicon Valley of industrial innovation. A cluster of local manufacturers had each built an industry-leading business on an important innovation, inventing or radically improving staples of the modern shop floor – all of which added to the surging decibel levels. A few examples:

The history of the world’s response to high-noise environments and the assault on human hearing can be thought of in terms of two themes: keeping the bad sounds out, and letting the good sounds in.

A symphony of coordination is required for shop floor health and safety

The recent history of noise reduction

Although ear plugs were patented in 1884 and further refined over the following decades, historically the need for hearing protection was typically framed in terms of warfare. It wasn’t until the 1970s that industry became proactive about addressing threats to hearing on shop floors and other work sites. Today, hearing protection comes in the form of ear plugs or external ear muffs, many of which are custom-designed to address a specific noise level or to provide a variety of other benefits.

High-noise environments like shop floors also make it difficult to hear the human voice (typically 70-76 decibels), a problem that may be worsened by wearing hearing protection. Today high-noise headsets solve the problem simply and efficiently. They fit comfortably under hard hats or other protective headgear. When everyone on the shop floor is outfitted with a headset and its paired receiver/transceiver, the human voice speaks directly into the listener’s ear, in essence bypassing the noise-filled gap in between.

But while keeping harmful noise out helps prevent just one type of injury (i.e., to hearing) facilitating communication through high-noise headsets can reduce the incidence of all types of injury – from falling objects, from defective equipment, from collisions, from areas of loose footing. That’s because those headsets will ensure that all warnings will be heard, whether hours in advance or in a matter of seconds before the potentially dangerous situation occurs.

The day after tomorrow

A few years ago Tesla put out a video ad portraying the workings on the shop floor in one of its factories. The ad features slightly speeded-up video of “160 high precision robots” (according to words briefly flashed on the screen) in various stages of assembling a car. While there’s also a brief nod to “Over 3,000 skilled technicians,” the robots are clearly the stars. The sense of harmonized movement is almost mesmerizing, and pretty impressive.

But the entire audio track consists of the hard pulsing song Perfect Day, by the Constellations. There’s not a single snippet of ambient sound from the shop floor. The ad may well give the unconscious impression that robots work virtually silently – and perhaps raises the question of whether high noise levels in a factory might not be inevitable.

But robots are not a solution to the communication barriers found on shop floors. Robots may or not be less noisy than other machines, but it’s not other machines that are being replaced by robots; it’s human labor. Robots will continue to work alongside conveyors, overhead cranes, roller mills, and the like for the foreseeable future, and each of these will continue to generate high noise levels.

Technology is indeed the solution to the problem of keeping shop floors safe by enabling reliable communication. But that technology comes in the form of traditional hearing protection coupled with high-noise headsets – not as glamorous as robots, perhaps, but each on the leading edge in their own way.

Author: Rick Farrell, President, Plant-Tours.com

Rick is North America’s foremost expert in improving manufacturing group communication, education, training and group hospitality processes. He has over 40 years of group hospitality experience, most recently serving as President of Plant-Tours.com for the last 18 years.  He has provided consulting services with the majority of Fortune 500 industrial corporations improving group communication dynamics of all types in manufacturing environments.

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Vaccine rollout is well underway in the U.S., painting a positive picture for the future. Still, it will take time for everyone to be fully vaccinated, and even then, COVID-19 safety protocols could linger for a while. In the meantime, workplaces can turn to automation to improve their anti-COVID-19 measures.

Temperature checks, social distancing, and mask mandates have become standard across many businesses. While necessary, enforcing these protocols can limit facilities’ productivity, as they rely on staff who could otherwise work on value-adding tasks. Since many companies had to reduce their active workforce by 39% on average, they need to improve productivity wherever possible.

Automating COVID-19 safety protocols also further removes employees from situations where they could contract the virus. Automation minimizes or eliminates close contact between workers during things like temperature checks.

Here’s how you can automate COVID-19 safety measures to stay safe and raise productivity.

1. Install Body Temperature Cameras

Temperature checks are one of the most common anti-COVID-19 measures, but they typically require close contact. Some businesses have found a way around this by installing thermal camera systems by employee entrances. These systems, which resemble metal detectors, scan worker temperatures as they walk, alerting relevant parties if they’re feverish.

Setting these systems up may be expensive at first, but you gain productivity in the process. The employee who would’ve performed temperature checks can instead work as usual, making your workplace more productive. Since these cameras can scan 30 people at once, they’re also more efficient than human-run checks.

Similar cameras throughout the workspace can detect if an employee develops a high temperature at work. You can then investigate further to determine if they need to go home or not.

2. Distribute Wearables for Social Distancing

Maintaining at least a 6-foot distance between workers is another crucial step in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks. Instituting a social distancing policy by itself isn’t enough to ensure people stay distant. It’s not economical to have managers monitor employees, either, so automation is the ideal solution.

Many warehouses and factories have turned to wearable technology to facilitate social distancing. These devices alert employees when they come within six feet of one another through noises and vibrations. These alerts are particularly helpful in areas with limited visibility where workers may not see each other.

You can’t expect to enforce social distancing by having managers roam the workspace. They can’t feasibly cover enough ground, and they could be working on more valuable tasks instead. Using wearables to maintain distance lets you keep employees safe without sacrificing productivity.

Automate COVID-19 safety protocols with wearable technology

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels

3. Use AI Cameras to Detect Masks

Masks are one of the simplest yet most effective ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Like with other regulations, though, mask mandates are only effective to the extent that employees comply with them. AI-enabled camera systems can detect if workers are wearing masks or not.

Machine vision systems can analyze video footage to see if anyone isn’t wearing a mask when they should be. You could deploy these with facial recognition to identify non-masked employees, but you may run into privacy concerns. An alternative would be a system that alerts managers when someone isn’t wearing a mask so they can look into it.

No matter what type of cameras you use, you should make sure your employees know about it. Privacy laws forbid employers from placing hidden cameras in private areas, and workers must know if and when you are recording them. Keep these factors in mind so you can protect employees from COVID-19 while preserving privacy rights.

4. Employ Sanitation Robots

Sanitation has found itself in the spotlight throughout the pandemic. Many businesses have adopted new cleanliness standards to eliminate cross-contamination and disease spreading through shared surfaces. Most companies pursue this by hiring cleaning crews or requiring workers to clean more frequently, which isn’t efficient.

A more cost-effective measure is to use sanitation robots. These automated cleaners are typically expensive but represent savings in the long run. Some take just 12 minutes to disinfect an area that would take a human worker more than an hour.

When you factor in how much it would take to pay a cleaning service over several months, the robots are more cost-efficient. Automation in this area also keeps people away from potentially contaminated surfaces, improving workplace health.

5. Implement Access Controls

Knowing where all employees are at any given time facilitates easier and more accurate contact tracing. Partitioning a workspace into separate zones can also help enable social distancing. To enforce these protocols more efficiently, you can use electronic access controls.

You can install locks that only open when workers scan their IDs. When employees have to scan into an area, you have a record of who was where if an outbreak occurs. You can then alert any other employees who might’ve contracted the virus so they can quarantine.

You could post workers by the doors to record who goes in and out, but that would be highly inefficient. Automatic access controls help ensure everyone working that day is adding value to the company.

Automation Improves Safety and Efficiency Amid COVID-19

Automating COVID-19 safety protocols lets you stay safe and maintain productivity. These solutions may come at a higher upfront cost, but their safety and efficiency benefits are impossible to ignore. They will also continue to help after the pandemic fades, ensuring productivity while preventing diseases like the flu.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on many businesses, but you can take measures to mitigate it. These five automation options will help keep your employees safe and efficient.


This article is written by Devin Partida. Devin is a tech writer with an interest in the IIot and manufacturing. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.


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Manufacturers are always on the lookout for ways to strengthen their supply chains and warehouses. But while they probably pay close attention to picking speed and accuracy, they may overlook how important warehouse safety is to an effective facility. When accidents occur, they can create significant delays and cost overruns that have the potential to hurt much more than your profitability. For the protection of your people, products and bottom line, you should make maintaining a safe warehouse one of your top priorities.

For example, workers should never be allowed to operate equipment or handle hazardous materials without proper training. This needs to be reinforced constantly, not just mentioned once during a new hire’s orientation. The application of safety signs and instructions around the workplace paired with consistently accessible training seminars will help boost a facility’s warehouse safety significantly. In addition to providing employees with the necessary education, you also need to ensure that they have and use proper safety gear such as hard hats, ear plugs and goggles. If these items don’t fit correctly, they may as well not be available at all.

Another vital responsibility of employers is keeping up with regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance of equipment. These systematic checks can catch problems before they have an opportunity to create unsafe working conditions. The preventive maintenance methodology has become an industry standard for most organizations and, not only benefit the employees from a safety standpoint, but also generates maintenance savings and overall performance improvements.

Don’t let accidents become the weak link in your supply chain. For more tips on keeping your facility incident-free, see the accompanying infographic with efficient warehouse safety guidelines.


Creating a safe and efficient warehouse infographic


Author bio: Roy Pelkey is Vice President of Qualitrol. With more than 30 years of experience in executive management, sales, marketing and e-commerce businesses, Pelkey leads Qualitrol — the repair and services division of CIMTEC — which provides worldwide support of obsolete and discontinued automation products.


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