5 Biggest Safety Concerns in the Manufacturing Industry
As part of Superior Glove’s Thought Leader Series, we feature guest writers who submit articles about the vast topics of hand and arm safety. This article about safety concerns in manufacturing was submitted by Kevin Hill, Online Marketing Manager of Quality Scales Unliminted.
Modern manufacturing units are required to produce big batches of high-quality products while meeting tight deadlines to keep up with the ever-increasing market demands.
But this also requires that manufacturing facilities strike a perfect balance between operational efficiency and employee safety.
Even with OSHA standards and compliance regulations in place, the noisy moving parts, exposed electrical wires and powered industrial trucks pose the following dangers in a fast-paced manufacturing setting.
The manufacturing industry reports over 300 serious work-related injuries and nearly 400,000 non-fatal injuries annually. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1. Poor Maintenance Operations
When heavy machinery and equipment are not maintained periodically, they can become very dangerous for operators, engineers, assemblers, electricians and compounders.
Even a fail-safe mechanism may malfunction if operational issues go unchecked and are not fixed in time.
To minimize the risk it is important to have vital infrastructure equipment inspected and serviced by in-house or on contract technicians on a periodic basis.
However, at times even spaced out inspections may fail to address certain issues with the equipment.
So, it is important that employees who work on specific equipment are trained to identify abnormalities like strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding or other potentially hazardous signs which indicate the need for an immediate shutdown.
2. Inability to Follow Risk Management Procedures
Machine guards protect employees from improperly installed machines.
Signs and tapes help identify restricted areas or areas with limited access. Strict enforcement of safety codes and properly labelled chemicals that pose fire hazards help employees understand the risks and avert the hazards.
Proper risk management procedures with hands-on teaching and demos are the best defence against manufacturing hazards. Accurate weighing with industrial floor scales is another great but often overlooked way to ensure that vehicles are filled to optimum safe capacity, ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
3. Not Wearing Personal Protective Equipment:
Combustible liquids, open wires, spray booths; conveyor belts and automated vehicles make manufacturing facilities a high-risk environment.
Fatigue, complacency, and carelessness further increase the risk and can lead to serious injuries in the absence of the right personal protective equipment.
A clear, uncluttered facility that keeps safety top-of-mind and emphasizes the importance of wearing PPE can considerably reduce the risks involved in working around moving machines and heavy equipment.
Learn everything PPE-related by reading The PPE Bible.
4. Inadequate Safety Training:
Your manufacturing facility is only as safe as the employees working for you and employees often work alone.
So, when an unexpected event occurs, managing the most rapid response possible becomes challenging.
This is why most manufacturing units have an appropriate safety training program in place to ensure employee safety against electrical hazards, chemicals burns, machines, moving parts and equipment.
Ideally, it includes the implementation of the best industry practices when handling materials and heavy machinery especially, when the work involves moving objects and hazardous equipment. The training should also include educating employees on first-aid, CPR, safety monitoring technology, confined-space rescue and emergency response protocol to keep the workforce prepared to manage emergencies – at all times.
Absence of Safeguards:
When Lockout/Tagout procedures are not in place, many energy sources can prove to be hazardous to workers who are servicing or maintaining electrical, mechanical or chemical equipment.
Absence of safeguards can lead to an expected release of energy or start an equipment while it is being repaired, leading to a serious injury or even death.
This is why employers must ensure that appropriate lockout/tagout procedures are in place to confirm that the power supply has been completely disconnected before an employee undertakes any work on the machine.
Manufacturing facilities and production units are automating manufacturing processes and procedures for increased output, enhanced efficiency and reduced cost but this automation also requires the implementation of the right safety solutions.
So, if you are using automation to your advantage also ensure that your safety program is comprehensive, concise and clearly communicated to employees who remain constantly riddled with risks that are not obvious and also those that are out in the open.
About Kevin Hill:
Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.