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South Carolina National Guard at

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As any business owner can tell you, workplaces can be hazardous to employees. Every year, more than $50 billion is spent on worker disability claims.

The saddest part is that most workplace injuries can be easily avoided if a few simple changes are made. Identifying risks within the workplace and making corrections, retraining workers to follow safe practices, and installing and using ergonomically beneficial tools and products can significantly reduce the number or injuries and claims payouts.

Focus on Safety

While every workplace is unique, the insurance company Liberty Mutual recently conducted an analysis of the most common workplace injuries. by focusing on just these 10 issues, many businesses will be able to substantially alleviate their amount of risk.

Here, then, are the Top 10 Most Common Accidents Resulting in Disability Claims, as identified by Liberty Mutuals 2016 Workplace Safety Index.

Overexertion Involving an Outside Source

This alone accounted for nearly 25% of all injuries resulting in direct costs to employers. This category includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or throwing objects. Overexertion involving an outside source costs US businesses $15.08 billion in direct costs, according to the report.

Training employees on proper lifting techniques, providing the appropriate lifting equipment, and properly supervising employees to make sure they are always following safety guidelines and acting appropriately in the workplace can reduce these types of accidents.

Falls on the Same Level

This category costs businesses $10.17 billion and accounted for 16.4% of the total injury burden to US companies. It includes workers falling on flat surfaces, either while carrying materials or while simply walking or standing.

Requiring workers to wear non-skid shoes and keeping floor surfaces free from oils, debris, and other hazards can help significantly reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents.

Falls to a Lower Level

This was the third-ranked risk and cost $5.4 billion in claims. Falls from heights typically results in more serious injuries that can result in higher injury claims.

This type of injury is one of the easiest to prevent. Simply walk through your workplace and identify areas where there is a difference between levels. Installing railings, chains, or other protective devices — as well as warning signs — in these areas should eliminate most of these injuries immediately.

Other Common Causes of Workplace Injuries

Rounding out the list were:

  • Struck by an Object or Equipment
  • Other Exertions or Bodily Reactions
  • Roadway Incidents Involving Motorized Land Vehicle
  • Slip or Trip without Fall
  • Caught In/Compressed by Equipment or Objects
  • Struck Against Object or Equipment
  • Repetitive Motions Involving Micro-Tasks



As I write this, Christmas 2016 is only a few weeks away. And, as it has been for the last few years, shoppers are once again relying on e-commerce to buy and deliver gifts on time. That means a great demand on next-day delivery.

The pressure is mounting for more and more warehouses to have a next-day delivery service. The question for them is no longer: “Should we be starting a next-day delivery program?” The question is: “How do we set up an efficient next-day delivery program?”

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Courtesy: Bill Haslam at

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
(Courtesy: Bill Haslam at

Most if not all warehouses are using digital to manage their operations.  Warehouse executives have become familiar with most of the software available that can help with this including Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Warehouse Control Systems (WCS), and Warehouse Executive Systems (WES). How a warehouse uses the software can mean the difference between having or not having a successful next-day delivery service.

Many warehouse executives who have experienced the problem of initiating next-day delivery service say that it starts with nine steps that include:

1.     Assessing your order history
2.     Dynamic Order versus Wave Management
3.     The proper software to use
4.     An accurate inventory
5.     Labor management
6.     Storage
7.     Picking
8.     Replenishing Inventory
9.     Assessing Packing and Shipping

Let’s attack each step one at a time.

Assessing Your Order History

Warehouse executives who have experienced the implementation of next-day delivery advise that you take at least two or three months to analyze your order history before deciding what kind of automation you should be introducing into your operation. This assessment should include such issues as how many lines are in orders, the cubic requirements for SKUs and order profiles, and growth of orders over time. Once you have completed a full assessment, then you can start to determine what software is best for your situation.

Dynamic Order Versus Wave Management

In order to have a successful next-day delivery program a warehouse must be flexible in how they release orders to the floor and integrate them into the picking process. What causes problems is that many Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) process orders in large groups or waves that have to be worked through the process from start to finish before it can account for new orders. In short, you need to find a way to drop new orders into the process. This leads into…

The Proper Software To Use

Order management systems or enterprise systems are set up to release orders to a WMS or WCS in large groups that creates a choke point in your ability to process new orders. There is a need for a “Dynamic Integration” between order management and WMS or WCS. After that, the warehouse operation needs to be flexible enough to drop new orders into the flow and work process.

Some software companies have created a solution called Warehouse Execution System (WES) that supports a continuous flow of orders and collects order data and analyzes it to create a level flow of picking, replenishment, packing, and other fulfillment activities. Many software companies who create WES note that their solution offers continuous flow, which takes new orders into account and makes them a part of the process.

An Accurate Inventory

Of course, knowing what is in your inventory is essential for any warehouse operation and is paramount in offering next-day delivery. WMS does a good job of providing a solution for this, but it needs to be supported by solid data collection. This may be a difficult task for warehouses that have thousands of SKUs, large pick areas to replenish, and seasonal or temporary employees to meet the labor needs. In this case, WMS with graphical aids can assist in ensuring accuracy. However, the labor force needs to be properly trained and be able to use barcode data collection. Training and system checks and balances are essential to assure inventory accuracy.

In Part II I will discuss Labor Management, Storage, Picking, Replenishing Inventory, and Assessing Packing and Shipping in creating a next-day delivery service.


protective eye gearWhile the biggest construction contractors often have teams of safety and health specialists on staff to help identify and eliminate safety hazards, smaller-scale contractors who make up the majority of construction businesses are generally on their own.

Until now, that is. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a new guide designed to help small to medium sized construction companies develop their own proactive safety programs that can improve workplace safety and reduce the amount of workplace injuries.

The guidelines are outlined in a new PDF document entitled “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction”, which can be downloaded for free HERE.

Keeping Workers Safe

The idea is for contractors to use the document to create health and safety programs using simple steps that anybody can follow, including training workers on how to identify and control hazards themselves, inspecting job sites together with line-level workers to identify potential problems with equipment and materials, and developing effective responses to emergency scenarios before they happen.

The benefit of the new OSHA guide is that it can be scaled to fit practically any sized construction business, from the smallest two-person operation working on short-term projects to larger companies with dozens of employees working on multi-year jobs, according to Dr. David Michaels, assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.

“The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable,” Michaels said in a news release announcing the release of the guide.

Benefits of Increased Workplace Safety

Implementing the recommendations outlined in the new OSHA guide will do more than just reduce workplace injuries and make job sites safer. It also can help improve productivity and quality, improve employee morale, and even improve employee recruitment and retention.

Small- to medium-sized companies that institute better workplace safety standards can benefit from a more favorable image and reputation among clients, suppliers, and peers within the industry. And as any contractor can tell you, your construction business is only as good as its reputation.

Even if contractors already have a safety program in place, it’s a good idea to review the recommendations because there are always new construction techniques, materials, and equipment being introduced into the industry.

There’s also more diversity today in the overall construction workforce. So people from different backgrounds — who often speak different languages — are often working side by side. Plus, the aging workforce and the rise of a sedentary lifestyle means that more workers than ever before are a higher risk for work-related injuries.



Here is a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find coming soon to the Bahrns blog:

  • While many big construction companies have elaborate safety departments, smaller contractors are generally on their own. But now OSHA has developed a new guide that can help small- to medium-sized construction contractors improve workplace safety. We’ll share it the details …
  • Setting up a next day delivery program is something many companies should take into consideration, but how to be successful at it is key. We’ll explain …
  • There are some types of workplace accidents that just keep occurring again and again. We’ll tell you what they are and how to prevent them … and save money at the same time …

All this and much, much more can be found coming soon to the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!

Photo courtesy of Southworth Products Corp.

Photo courtesy of Southworth Products Corp.

Quick: What is the average height of all the employees in your workplace? In the US, the average height for men is 5 foot 10 inches. For women, the average height is 5 feet 4 inches.

But that’s the national average. Most of your worker are going to be either taller or shorter than that. So if you provide work tables or surfaces designed to be used by people who are one particular height, they are going to be either too tall or too short for most of your work staff.

Having equipment that isn’t the right height for the workers who use it can lead to increased workplace injuries. Whenever people have to bend down or reach up to perform tasks, it puts strain on their backs, necks, arms, shoulders, and other parts of their body. Over time, this can lead to a wide variety of injuries, all of which will cost your business money in terms of workmen’s compensation claims, lost productivity, and down time.

Lift Tables to the Rescue

Lift tables allow workers to raise or lower their work surfaces so that they are at a comfortable height. Regardless of how tall or short a particular employee is, work tables can easily be adjusted for maximum comfort and productivity.

Work tables aren’t cheap. They can even run into the thousands of dollars, especially for a high-quality work table that is going to provide years of service. But in the long run they can pay for themselves many times over in the form of savings from future injury-related expenses your business won’t have to pay out.

A single workmen’s comp case can cost a business thousands of dollars. A lawsuit can cost even more. But a work table offers a sensible solution that enhances employee comfort, reduces the risk of injury, and even boosts your business’s productivity and profits.

Lift and Spin Tables

For an even more efficient work surface, consider lift tables that come equipped with a turntable that allows workers to spin whatever they are working on toward them whenever they want.

This reduces worker movement by preventing them from having to walk around the work table in order to access various parts of whatever they are working on. Both lift tables and pallet loaders are easy to use, spring-operated, and strong enough to handle even the heaviest loads.

Successful businesses look to the future. Now you can save time, money, and potential employee injuries in the future by investing now in the durable, safe, and efficient lift tables from


Polybag Pouches Gaining in Popularity

30 Nov 2016

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Polybags are becoming a popular way to ship items. (Courtesy: ebay)

Polybags are becoming a popular way to ship items.
(Courtesy: ebay)

It appears that more e-commerce and omni-channel retailers are turning to plastic pouches, also known as polybags, for shipping non-fragile products. Reports say that this is occurring because the bags cost less per unit to ship. Distribution centers and warehouses appear to favor the lighter weight of the bags and less use of storage space when compared to cardboard boxes. Shippers also like the ability to imprint full color branding messages on the bags.

Contrary to some who look upon this form of shipping to be eco-unfriendly, the polybags are more sustainable than corrugated boxes. Moreover, it takes less energy to manufacture the bags thus reducing the creation of carbon dioxide. Individuals familiar with packaging point out that these bags can be recycled through more curbside programs and retail stores are accepting them.

In the past, using these bags were not very efficient because packers would have to manually open the bags, insert the product, label and then seal the bag. The process of preparing a polybag for shipping has been timed at a rate of 1.5 per minute.

However, there are automated machines that assist in the process and have been able to pack as many as eight pouches per minute.

Operation of the automated machinery is easy. The operator scans a packing slip, which triggers the machine to print the shipping information

A table top bagging machine from Automated Packaging Systems. (Courtesy: Automated Packaging Systems)

A table top bagging machine from Automated Packaging Systems.
(Courtesy: Automated Packaging Systems)

directly on to the bag thus eliminating the need for adhesive labels. The machine then presents the bag to the operator, holds it open while the operator puts in the item, and then seals the bag with the packing slip and other marketing collateral left inside.

One company that offers such equipment is Automated Packaging Systems. Headquartered in Streetsboro, Ohio, the company offers a wide variety of these machines from tabletop to the company’s newest machine, the Autobag 8505, which runs bags up to 22-inches wide to ship larger items.

Technologies are now being developed that makes it easier to recycle plastic packaging. For example, in the United Kingdom packaging companies are working on technology called PRISM (Plastic Packaging Recycling using Intelligent Separation Methods) that permits recycling plants to quickly sort out plastic packaging by detecting “intelligent labels” containing invisible markers. The markers include fluorescent materials developed from metal oxides as well as recycled fluorescent materials made by converting reprocessed powders from recycled fluorescent lamps.

The PRISM technology has been developed to work with infrared-based sorting systems that are already in use.


cartsIf you have a dolly, cart, or other materials handling transport vehicle that is out of service, you may not always have to buy an entirely new replacement. In many cases, you can save money and get your vehicle back on the job faster by simply replacing its casters.

Casters are the wheels the fit on the bottom of dollies, carts, and other unpowered transport vehicles. Carts and dollies aren’t terribly complicated devices. Typically, they are composed of just a platform and wheels, or casters. And it’s the casters that do all the moving.

So 9 times out of 10, if your transport cart or dolly has stopped rolling, it’s because there is something wrong with the casters, not the transport tool itself. And that’s good news because replacing casters is as easy as 1-2-3.

Types of Casters

Casters are made in a variety of different materials, each of which has it’s own specific use. Plastic casters are frequently found on low-weight, low-movement vehicles, such as office furniture.

Platforms for moving heavier items, such as furniture dollies, often have full pneumatic wheels for additional support. And casters for vehicles that need to be moved frequently, such as mechanic’s carts, could have rigid molded rubber or even steel wheels.

Casters also attach to their devices differently, depending on how they are used. Some feature a single pole which fits into a socket, while those that will support heavier weights may be attached via bolts or screws.

Replacing Your Casters

furniture dolliesReplacing casters is always easier (and more affordable) than replacing an entire cart or dolly. Most vehicles have casters that are designed to be interchangeable. That’s why they can be easily removed and replaced.

When replacing casters, it’s always important to get exactly the same type of caster as the others that already are on the vehicle. If you have three of one type of caster and one of another, it’s highly likely that your platform isn’t going to roll properly. It could even be imbalanced, which could present a safety hazard.

Reordering casters is simple. At, we have a wide variety of casters of every style, type, and material. Simply go online, find the replacement casters you need and we can get them to you as quickly as possible so you can minimize equipment down time.

Helpful Hint: When ordering replacement casters, it’s usually a good idea to get more than one. That way you will always have backups when you need them and won’t have to wait for replacement casters to be delivered in the future.



Here is a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find coming soon to the Bahrns blog:

  • Replacing casters is a LOT less costly than replacing an entire dolly, work platform, or other transport devices. We’ll give you the ins and outs of caster replacement so you can make the most cost-efficient decision …
  • The popularity of Polybag pouches are gaining steam when companies are shipping non-fragile items … Let us tell you how and why …
  • Let’s face facts: Lift tables aren’t cheap. But a small lift table investment in the short run can save your business a whole lot of money down the line. We’ll explain why …

All this and much, much more can be found coming soon on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!


libraryAt, we do more than just provide materials handling equipment, parts, and supplies to our wide range of commercial and industrial customers. We also strive to educate our clients, vendors, and others in the materials handling community on the latest materials handling topics, new equipment, and issues that are important to our industry.

There’s a number of ways we do this.

More than Blog Posts

First, there is the blog you are reading right now. At least twice per week, we research the latest materials handling topics and create and publish content our customers will find useful.

On the social media accounts, we also reprint articles that are relevant to our industry, post links to photos and videos, and generally keep our followers up to date with the cutting edge information that is essential to succeeding in any business.

But one of the least known resources we provide is our library of materials handling articles.

The Materials Handling Library

Need to know how to safely operate a pallet jack? Understand why gloves are essential in the workplace? Want to know how stretch wrap works? At, we’ve got you covered.

Our library includes dozens of helpful and informed articles that provide the most current safety and instructional information on everything from forklifts to shelving, from risk management to pallets, and everything materials handling related in between.

Our online materials handling library is open to the public 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Anybody can use it to read and research important topics related to our industry.

Feel Free to Share

You can even share the information contained in the Bahrns materials handling library anywhere you like. Post links on your Facebook page or print up your favorite articles and distribute them to your workers or post them in your break room. It’s fine with us.

That’s because the most important thing to us isn’t getting attribution or credit for providing this helpful information. What’s important to us is simply being able to spread actionable, useful information that people can use in their everyday lives to improve safety, increase productivity, and make the best business decisions.

At, it’s our pleasure to keep our customers, vendors, clients, and other visitors informed through our library, social media, and our blog. It’s one of the ways we strive to make the materials handling industry environment a better place for everybody.



Ergonomics has become a familiar concept in warehouse operation. It is because it deals with how workers can perform more efficiently in a work environment.

Workers who are most concerned about ergonomics in a warehouse use pallets in their day-to-day routine. Wouldn’t it be great if there were products that offer ergonomics benefits in the stacking and 1storing of pallets?

One company has come up with a device that does just that. Automation Plus, a division of CSF Incorporated located in Stoughton, Wisconsin, is offering the Pallet Return Device.

Pallet Return Device (PRD) is a pallet handling or return product that stacks pallets so that workers don’t have to do it manually. It provides relief for employees who would of had to lift pallets and risk serious injury including musculoskeletal disorders.  It also reduces the risk of falling pallets from poorly created stacks that can also result in serious injury.  The device reduces the need for laborers to neatly stack pallets saving on labor costs and it avoids the need for forklift drivers reshaping pallet stacks when they are preparing to handle them.

The device requires no outside source of energy and little continuous maintenance.  Moreover, it is designed to allow it to be retrofitted into nearly any set up and it works with wooden and plastic pallets at the same time.

The Pallet Return Device includes a carriage that tilts backwards for easy loading, a shock absorber that safely tilts the carriage when unloading, a raised receiving end that lifts pallets from the carriage so 2that it can be removed and reset, springs that pulls the load over the center of mass when unloading, end stops that keep the pallets in line and visible for a forklift driver, and wear pads that prevent metal on metal contact. It is designed to straighten each pallet when it is loaded, has easy to use hand and foot releases and includes a recessed, bilingual safety label that explains how to use it.

Those who have used the product report that it offers noticeable time savings of as much as 2 to 4 minutes when a stack is pulled from the picking module.  It has been retrofitted in empty pallet return lanes saving a lot of money that may have been spent reconstructing new picking modules to incorporate other devices.

The Pallet Return Device can be set up in two configurations –- pick module or stand alone floor.

The Pick Module configuration allows the Pallet Return Device to be mounted to existing pallet flow rails and can be retrofitted to fit any existing pallet racking.

The Stand Alone Floor Configuration allows mounting in any facility that has a flat surface. Therefore, the Pallet Return Device can be placed and used near any stack of pallets no matter the location.