If you have ever seen an ant colony with vast quantities of workers endlessly moving in perfect coordination, then you likely have a clear understanding of what warehouses are meant to look like. The problem is, humans are not ants. We do not have the same capacity to work for hours without rest, nor the sensory perception to work in such proximity without ever bumping into each other.
That does not, however, stop companies from trying to work you as if you were ants. Employers may put you and your colleagues under immense pressure to meet unrealistic quotas and deadlines. Combine that with the low wages, and it isn’t surprising that companies often struggle to find workers.
If you’re curious what solutions companies employ to address staff shortages, they often persuade their employees to work more hours. While overtime can solve a short-term staffing shortage, it is not sustainable in the long term. It results in more exhaustion and stress among workers, which can, in turn, affect safety. The result is that many warehouse workers suffer injuries, requiring them to take time off work, which only exacerbates the staffing problems they originally had.
How can employers ensure workers are not too tired to be safe?
One company has developed a wearable technology that can help employers track worker fatigue. If employers used it responsibly, they could see who is tired and give them a rest or food break to get their energy back to a level where they are less of a risk to themselves and others.
Sadly, warehouse employers generally use technology against their employees. If they find you are away from your station too long, take too many breaks or do not produce enough, they may use the data to justify disciplining or firing you.
Until the situation improves, getting injured working in a warehouse will remain a strong possibility. If it happens to you, then you’ll need to educate yourself about how to claim workers’ compensation benefits so that your physical injury does not cause you financial harm.