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Outlook for 2022: Information Will Give Us Power Over the Unknown

Every new year begins with a mixture of uncertainty and determination, trepidation and optimism. The pandemic, which will be entering its third year, will likely heighten the negative and prevent us from fully embracing the positive. For industry, key questions that will affect profit and loss, as well as operational efficiencies, have yet to find answers. Will global supply chain bottlenecks be resolved? Will labor shortages ease? Will inflation increase and if it does, will it affect consumer spending? (How much will it affect consumer spending might be the better question.) What kind of economic growth can we expect in 2022 in the U.S., and elsewhere?

You don’t need a crystal ball to foresee that material handling will continue to automate, a trend driven both by necessity (the explosive rise in ecommerce and difficulties in attracting and retaining workers) and by technology (i.e., increasingly sophisticated robots and vision-guided navigation technology). High installation costs will keep automation out of reach for some, at least for the time being, although it may be that – as is true for many kinds of technology – the costs will decrease going forward.

And speaking of those labor shortages, there are steps companies can take to retain employees and reduce turnover costs. The experts recommend creating a healthy workplace culture and using diversity initiatives and career advancement pathways to let workers know they’re valued and that they have opportunities for upward mobility within the company. Signing bonuses, competitive wages and incentives for referrals can help fill those empty positions in the workforce.

The continuing importance of one of WMHS’ favorite topics – workplace safety and health – is evident in the fact that one new voluntary standard on the subject has been published and existing ones have been revised. The new one is: ANSI/ASSP/ISO 45003-2021, Occupational Health and Safety Management – Psychological Health and Safety at Work – Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks. It provides guidance for managing psychosocial risk and promoting well-being at work as part of a safety and health management system based on ISO 45001. The revised standards are:

  • ANSI/ASSP A10.38-2021, Basic Elements of an Employer’s Program to Provide a Safe and Healthful Work Environment, which outlines minimum elements of a program for protecting employees in construction and demolition
  • ANSI/ASSP A10.47-2021, Work Zone Safety for Roadway Construction, which sets minimum requirements for workers involved in construction, utility work or maintenance on roads and aims to prevent crashes in work zones.
  • ANSI/ASSP Z359.11-2021, Safety Requirements for Full Body Harnesses, which creates minimum requirements for full-body harnesses commonly used for fall protection, travel restraint and rescue operations.
  • ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021, Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems, which establishes minimum requirements for self-retracting devices, including self-retracting lanyards.
  • ANSI/ASSP Z590.3-2021, Prevention Through Design Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Hazards and Risks in Design and Redesign Processes, which offers guidance on reducing or eliminating occupational safety and health hazards in the design process.

(For more information about those standards, visit the American Society of Safety Professionals website: https://www.assp.org/).

As we venture forth in 2022, it’s impossible to predict what’s up ahead (who could have anticipated a pandemic?). Information truly is power, and at Workplace Material Handling & Safety, we will continue to bring you timely and targeted information intended to improve your operations and keep your workers safe. WMHS

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