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“Safety & Material Handling Buying Intentions Study 2018,” Part One: General Overview

The Workplace Material Handling & Safety team approached Market Research Support Consultants, LLC, to conduct a study to understand the current and expected usage of various products and services used for safety and material handling. MRSC, LLC, was commissioned to conduct the Buying Intentions Study in order to provide detailed information on these aspects. The full study, titled “Safety & Material Handling Buying Intentions Study 2018,” was conducted Jan. 24-Feb. 8, 2018 on the web.

The key objectives for this study were to discover the importance of front-line supervision safety tasks; to understand purchase plans and spending on general products and services, as well as technology-focused products and services; and to understand subscribers’ purchasing influences and demographic profiles. The audience targeted in the survey was made up of active, qualified subscribers and recipients of Workplace Material Handling & Safety (print and digital editions) with a valid email address on file.


Who participated in the study? Some 26% of respondents were in the construction industry, with a close second (24%) in fabricated metals. The most prevalent respondents’ “industry served” represented were the food & beverage and automotive sectors, both at 33% of respondents. The retail industry, as well transportation & warehousing, represented 26 and 24% of respondents’ industry served, respectively. A whopping 61% of those surveyed identified their job function as that of “Safety/EHS,” but others also participated, including plant managers, executives, HR, engineers and more.

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents were male (80%), and most (66%) were over 50 years old (with a mean age of 52). Survey-takers were also an experienced group—with the largest share having 11-20 years in the industry (28%), and 72% combined having more than 11 years’ experience.

Safety First

A general overview of the survey reveals a few key findings. Among these is that safety is most decidedly top-of-mind.

For example, when asked about “front-line supervision safety task importance,” survey respondents were asked a series of questions on the importance of front-line supervision safety tasks. The answers revealed that responders generally place the same level of importance on all front-line supervision safety tasks, but “find & fix hazards” and “observe employee safety-related behavior” were rated next in importance, respectively.

Only about 8% of respondents felt that it was of primary importance to “discipline employees for at-risk behavior and safety rules violations.” This would suggest that proactive methods to prevent infractions are more important to those surveyed than reactive, disciplinary measures after the infraction has occurred. Thus, prevention takes higher priority than punishment as a means to promote good safety practices.

The survey also revealed that safety is the biggest trend in both the material handling and safety equipment/PPE industries. Among the “top trends in the material handling industry,” respondents mentioned “safety” 58 times, with “forklifts/forklift safety/operation/equipment” at a close second, at 49 mentions. “Automation” and “ergonomics” also were cited as trends, at 37 and 25, respectively.

“Top trends in the safety equipment/PPE industry” included “safety,” “gloves” and “protection/fall protection” as the top-three most important. “Comfort,” “hearing protection/noise cancelling” and “glasses/eye protection” all came in next, with nearly the same number of respondents naming them as important trends in the safety/PPD industry.

It was also revealed that most facilities currently have the safety-related technology tools and methods they need; a few of those surveyed planned to purchase them in the next year. When asked about the usage of these safety technology tools/methods, a large number of respondents—63%—who planned to buy in the next 12 months named “PPE embedded with sensors” as the item they planned to purchase.

A Look Ahead

The study also explores “Purchase Plans, Spending & Sales Trends,” which will be examined by delving into topics such as “products and services at the facility” and “plant operations expansion plans,” along with the importance of decision-making criteria and future revenue expectations.

The above information is just a small sample of what the study revealed. The “Safety & Material Handling Buying Intentions Study” can be assessed from both a Material Handling perspective and one of PPE/Safety. In upcoming issues, look for more in-depth coverage of this study. WMHS

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