Many workplaces have an older workforce due to the number of baby boomers currently working. Companies often have designed ergonomic interventions that allow all employees to perform their jobs more safely. Some companies, particularly those with distribution operations, have moved heavily into automation, and utilize mobile robotic warehouse systems. Others are still using a primarily manual system of moving product. Many companies are somewhere in the middle. So how do safety professionals support the decision making needed in warehouse operations to move towards automation? What degree of automation is needed and what data is needed to support the culture shift in both management and employees? What if some jobs, even with lift-assist devices are still too high risk for employees who have more abdominal girth and less back flexibility as they age? Do employees need to be replaced by robots?

This paper will explore the 10 plus year's journey experienced by one company who has moved from primarily manual material handling, unloading trailers and then inducting cases on traditional conveyors; to lift-assist devices, some integrated technology and robotics, without a fully mobile robotic system. Such middle of the road interventions can significantly reduce the risk of injury at work, as well as, improve productivity, without the full use of robotic systems.

L.L. Beanhas implemented a variety of technology over the last 10 years. This has improved productivity and supported the older workforce, who is aging in place. Prior to that, employees may have exceeded human performance in order to meet the needs of the customer and often experienced work related injuries. The changing of not only the workplace but the culture was needed to significantly reduce injuries. This case study will address designing systems/processes to meet the needs of an aging workforce, communicating the benefits of capital investments in safety, using risk data, and creating the culture shift in both management and employees, so that the equipment is correctly designed, supported and used by employees. Examples of technology and vendor integration will be included. This will allow the reader to assist their own operations with both decision support and/or technology solutions.

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