Manufacturing safety: 12 practical strategies
Planning for safety is crucial to protecting your workers and facilities from accidents and mishaps. Taking steps now to ensure your workers are safe from injury protects yourself from liability. Below are 12 tactics for improving safety in manufacturing facilities.
1. Have properly trained staff: All staff members setting foot on your facility floor should be aware of the potential hazards and be properly trained on how to perform their day-to-day tasks as well as respond to malfunctions and emergency situations. Not all of your workers will be thoroughly trained in first aid, but they should be comfortable with the basics — treating cuts and burns, for example. They should know where to find the right supplies, and an employee's emergency contact information should be easy to find in a hurry. It is a good idea to have at least one person on staff who is trained in performing CPR.
2. Have a defibrillator on hand: Defibrillation equipment (also known as AED) is becoming common in more and more work settings. It should be a staple in manufacturing, as the risk of a heart complications is higher due to the nature of the work and surroundings. Equally important is knowing when and how to use it. For example, AC and DC currents have different effects on the heart. Defibrillators are more likely to help a person who has come in contact with a direct current, as opposed to an alternating current. Have a training session with your staff to ensure everyone is aware of where the equipment is, when they should use it, and how to use it properly.
3. Don’t let your employees slip: It doesn’t have to be a fall from a great height to cause serious injury. Slipping on wet concrete can break bones or cause a concussion. Use rubber matting wherever possible. And on ledges and stairs, use anti-slip tape.
4. Maintain your equipment: Machinery that is in need of maintenance can be a serious safety hazard. Schedule regular maintenance checks for all of your equipment, and be sure that your workers know how to perform daily checks. They should know what to look, listen, and smell for to detect any abnormality that can result in malfunctioning equipment.
5. Use multilingual labels: For starters, everything in your facility should be properly labeled. That includes chemicals, machinery, and danger zones. Use labels in both English and Spanish (or whatever languages your workforce uses) to reach as many of your workers as possible. Similarly, make sure any safety instruction, checklists, and emergency phone numbers are available in all applicable languages.
6. Clearly identify forbidden zones: In most cases, not all workers should be granted access to every part of your facility. Additionally, people outside of your business should not be allowed on your premises without close supervision. Be sure that all areas of your facility are properly labeled to identify both who may enter and the potential hazards. In some cases, you may want to restrict access with locked doors.
7. Make sure you are using proper electrical cords: Are you using the best cords to prevent electrical shock? Different cords and wires are better suited for different environments. Some are able to withstand heat, for example, and some are built to be flexible. In any case, you should not overextend electrical cords or place them in areas where workers can trip. Whenever possible, consider a permanent solution that doesn’t require excessive use of hazardous extension cords.
8. Train employees to recognize symptoms: Working in manufacturing, your employees should be familiar with the signs of chemical or gas exposure. They should know when to evacuate the area and when to seek medical attention, as well as when to shut off machinery to prevent an explosion if flammable gas is present.
9. Keep confined space rescue equipment: Your workers can become trapped or could simply be in an environment low in oxygen, causing them to lose consciousness with no way to alert others. Make sure your employees know when to work in pairs, and keep handy rescue equipment such as wenches and harnesses, as well as ventilation equipment and exhaust blowers.
10. Control traffic flow in your facility: With employees and vehicles moving throughout a manufacturing area, it can become a free-for-all and an accident waiting to happen. Traffic routes should be clearly identified and enforced. Use cones and tape to identify heavy traffic areas, and post signage to indicate direction of flow. Place mirrors to help drivers see around corners, and consider removable speed bumps to keep them from moving too fast.
11. Clean spills immediately: Don’t wait for a clean-up crew — take matters into your own hands whenever you can. Give your workers access to absorbent spill kits and wipes. Provide them with patch and repair kits for smaller leaks. Sometimes signage and cones are needed to warn other workers to use caution around a spill. Just as important, your workers should know when not to attempt to clean up a spill. In those cases, it can be helpful to have movable spill dikes to stop hazardous materials from spreading across the floor.
12. Post safety checklists: At the end of the day, much of workplace safety comes down to the workers. They should know the risks and the right actions to take. Post daily safety checklists so that your workers are constantly reminded to stay vigilant.
These 12 tips are just suggestions and examples of measures one could take to make manufacturing facilities safer. This is not meant to be a definitive guide or exhaustive list. You should always be sure to follow all government-enforced safety laws first and foremost.
Jeff Maree is the Product Specialist at Eaton Filtration Online, an online supplier of Eaton filtration products for liquid handling and filtration needs. Jeff assists plant managers and makes sure they are getting the correct product to keep their machines and workers safe.
Edited by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, associate content manager, CFE Media, jdmaahs(a)cfemedia.com.