Manufacturing safety is important to prevent or lessen the risk of workplace injury, illness and death. While the expanse of OSHA's general industry safety regulations can seem overwhelming to many manufacturers, employers must be proactive about employee safety. Without a focus on safety, manufacturers can place their employees at risk and face expensive property damage, OSHA fines, workers compensation, recovery costs, and damage to their reputation from workplace incidents.
To better protect workers, safety professionals can hold regular toolbox talks that address the top 5 hazards that manufacturing employees face on a regular basis.
The consequences of ignoring manufacturing safety
Manufacturers who do not pay enough attention to manufacturing safety can find themselves subject to OSHA fines and penalties for failing to abide by OSHA regulations. OSHA often publishes press releases when they cite manufacturers for failing to follow these regulations and these press releases can cause significant damage to reputations. The press releases are often republished by other news organizations and are available via web search to a large audience.
Injuries to employees may also create significant worker's compensation and medical treatment costs. The organization has to take time to investigate the injury and to manage the costs of the injury including finding and training a replacement for the injured worker. The NSC estimates the cost per medically consulted injury in 2016 was $32,000, while the cost per death was $1,120,000. This estimate includes wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses and employer costs, but excludes property damage except for motor vehicles.
In addition, multiple employee injuries and/or death can cause significant emotional toll in the workplace and for the employees and their loved ones. The physical, emotional, and financial impact of a workplace injury can linger for years after the event.
Proactive steps to improve employee manufacturing safety
Employers must be on the look out to mitigate numerous hazards to keep their employees safe. From harsh chemical exposure to the risk of slips, trips and falls, manufacturers must prepare and address a wide array of safety issues. Check out our popular blog post for the top five manufacturing safety hazards. We list our top four safety tips to improve manufacturing safety below.
- Improve employee training.
- Maintain and guard heavy machinery.
- Use appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE).
- Create a safe work environment.
One of the first steps manufacturers can take toward employee safety is to ensure that all new (and existing) workers are comprehensively trained on their job responsibilities and various safety techniques. They should know what PPE to wear, how to maintain or service heavy machinery, proper lock/out tagout procedures and any other need-to-know workplace safety information. We've created a page on safety training to help you understand the in and outs of workforce safety training.
Machine guarding is a safety feature around manufacturing equipment that includes a shield or device that covers hazardous parts of the machine that can prevent injury to the equipment operator or to others nearby. In the manufacturing environment, all machines should be assessed for proper guarding and shields to prevent injury to employees.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE includes clothing, glasses, footwear, head protection that employees can utilize to protect themselves from hazards in the manufacturing environment. Organizations need to assess the appropriate PPE that is required for each job; purchase the appropriate PPE; make sure the employee is fitted appropriately for the PPE and train the employee on how to wear and utilize the PPE. Of course, PPE needs to be maintained, assessed, and updated on a regular basis.
Safe Work Environment
A safe workplace involves creating and maintaining an environment in which employees are able to work safely, without risk to their physical and psychological health and welfare. Employee training, PPE, and Machine Guarding are all key factors in helping to establish a safe environment in the manufacturing arena. Other factors such as housekeeping, employee involvement, manager training, and more also contribute to a safe work environment. At IndustrySafe, we focus on helping organizations create a safe work environment by providing a safety management software that allows organizations to track, analyze, and report on key safety data and metrics. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you manage safety.