The Bureau of Statistics reported that 2.9 million workers were injured or became ill in 2015 while on the job. The reported figure represents an approximate rate of 3 cases per 100 employees, a slight improvement from the previous year's 3.2 figure. While this is good news, employers have a ways to go in order to ensure the safety of their people.
Safety in the workplace is more than just wearing brightly colored gear and following day-to-day protocol. Each sector has its own safety needs, but there are common manufacturing safety tips that help keep people, machines, and the workplace safe. Here are 10 you can use:
Tip #1: Know Your Factory
Departmental manufacturing safety tips abound, but having complete, holistic knowledge of the factory is often overlooked. Manufacturers and their shop floor, warehouse, and field operations managers need to update themselves with what's happening in workplaces within the entire organization. The slightest carelessness or inattention can lead to a major worker injury or plant catastrophe.
Consider doing a monthly floor walk, where you identify risk points and talk to your lead in that area to ensure safety is being kept top-of-mind.
Tip #2: Implement Orientation and Ongoing Training and Certifications
Manufacturers should make it mandatory for new employees to attend a comprehensive orientation session to be conducted by a trained safety instructor. The instructor should ensure the new employees understand their responsibilities by letting them sign a statement that they have successfully completed the orientation. These courses should also be updated as processes change, and needs shift in the manufacturing facility.
Also, offer ongoing classes and certifications and make them available to your employees to take. This will reinforce the fact that their safety is your first priority, and make them feel appreciated.
Tip #3: Educate Workers on the Hazards
Some safety hazards affecting the manufacturing industry are mishandling of machine guards, powerful industrial trucks, and electrical equipment. Additionally, exposure to toxic materials can also affect people's health as well as expose the factory to potential risks like fires and explosions. Knowing these hazards can help you prepare an effective safety and preventative program.
Tip #4: Create a Company-Wide Safety Culture
Making safety an integral part of the operating processes is a technique that helps create a safety culture within the organization. Embedding the safety rules into your employees daily routine and making them aware of their responsibilities makes it easier for them to follow the rules because safety becomes part of their daily working lives.
Encourage an open-door policy, where workers can speak up about safety hazards they may find on the floor. After all, they’re your eyes and ears, and experience everything personally every day. For example, a puddle of oil on the floor can cause a potential fall or slip.
The first employee that sees the puddle should immediately remedy the situation by putting an absorbent cloth on top of the oil, have the right person determine the cause of the leak, and take the best course of action. A toolbox left on the aisle is a potential tripping hazard and a simple scratch on the arm could be something bigger than you think.
Tip #5: Follow Proper Lockout/Tagout Procedures
Proper lockout/tagout procedures help protect workers by ensuring that all machines are completely turned off before working on them. If machines are not properly turned off, there’s an inherent risk they can start back up on their own, potentially inflicting injury to the employees working on them. You could avert possible injury if you train employees who are directly involved and those who work within the vicinity of the machines.
Tip #6: Have an Emergency Action Plan
An emergency action plan is an essential element to have that can be implemented during major emergencies. Employees should know what to do during a given emergency. Total or partial evacuation may be necessary depending on the gravity of the situation.
In case of fire, a fire alarm system should activate emergency response teams to perform their assigned duties. In the event of a bomb threat, toxic substance release, or hazardous weather, a public address system should notify all concerned to go to previously identified safer grounds.
Tip #7: Form a Safety Committee
To reduce the potential for injury and loss in case of emergency, a safety committee should be formed with the primary purpose of enforcing and educating workers on safety rules. Ideally, it should be composed of representatives from all the departments who should meet regularly with an agenda to review and assess the safety situation in the organization and formulate new policies or update old rules.
Case in point: safety should not have a “set it and forget it” mentality.
Tip #8: Automate Your Security Systems
For safety reasons, you cannot allow just anyone to gain access to the factory, including maintenance crews. Factories that need to operate around the clock need someone to monitor the flow of people 24/7. We recommend investing in automated security systems that come complete with cameras and authentication controls.
Safety Around the Clock
There are just about as many safety tips for manufacturers as there are industries and their sub-sectors. If you want to boost your manufacturing safety program, consider evaluating your company’s entire quality standards and requirements to get started. If safety isn’t your number one priority, you need to reevaluate your supply chain and processes again.
Whether it’s automating your security systems or educating workers on the hazards, know that safety requires ongoing efforts, and a dedication to the highest standards of excellence. It’s important to be adaptive when looking at safety controls, and be willing to reevaluate steps in your process if need be. After all, you’re implementing safety so day-to-day manufacturing operations remain safe for people, machines, and all.