If you work in manufacturing, you’re probably used to hearing about the many safety risks associated with your industry. But did you know that manufacturing sites average more than 300 deaths and 122,521 injuries each year?
If manufacturing safety protocols or facility upkeep tend to become rote, you’re risking more than increased turnover, litigation, and delays in production: you’re risking lives.
Chances are, you’re very familiar with the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Whether it’s chemical spills and mechanical failures or the absence of personal protection equipment (PPE), you cannot afford to put the safety and well-being of your workforce at risk.
Here are some manufacturing safety tips to ensure you’re doing your part while maintaining OSHA compliance.
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Steps for Promoting a Workforce Safety Culture
You need a detailed process for keeping employee injuries, OSHA investigations, and lawsuits at bay.
In order to do everything possible to prevent on-the-job factory accidents, consider implementing the following manufacturing safety management strategies:
- Provide thorough training, instructional videos, and safety manuals to employees. Proper training is your first and best solution for instilling proper operating and facility procedures in your workforce. You need to make sure you’re making an impact and fully preparing each employee to perform their role. That includes providing them with an in-depth understanding of personal protective equipment, materials, potential risks, and how to handle them, using live instruction, helpful videos, and safety manuals as references. Training is key to accident prevention in the workplace.
- Regularly evaluate your operations for safety and health occupational hazards. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many employees turn a blind eye to workplace hazards. Don’t fall behind on housekeeping and keeping work areas clean and maintained. If conducting regular safety rounds and evaluations isn’t part of your daily (or even weekly) routines, it should be. Additionally, use every tool available –signs, posters, wall and floor markings, color codes, alarms, lights, etc.– to warn employees about potential hazards.
- Monitor facilities effectively. Consistent monitoring can help in multiple ways. First, it ensures speedy reaction time to accidents the moment they occur. Second, it helps you ensure that safe Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are maintained. Third, and perhaps most importantly, ongoing status reports may help you disprove workers’ comp claims and legal disputes.
- Utilize machine guards. Machine guards can protect employees from hazards created by a machine’s rotating parts, electrical sparks, etc. Be sure to test equipment that utilizes emergency stop functions at the beginning of each shift.
- Teach employees hazardous energy control procedures (i.e., LOTO). Manufacturing accidents resulting from the failure to use consistent Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) procedures during maintenance activities can include electrocution, burns, crushing, amputating, or fractured body parts. To achieve compliance with LOTO standards, manufacturers must develop and enforce a strict energy control program tailored to their equipment.
- Systematically maintain a written Hazard Communication (HazCom) program. Manufacturing employees that work in areas where chemicals are used, distributed, or produced are required to comply with OSHA’s HAZCOM standard, which includes providing safety data sheets (SDSs) addressing hazardous chemicals in your place of business.
- Maintain Respiratory Protection Standards. Provide your workers with recommended personal protection equipment, such as face shields, hard hats, safety goggles, etc.
- Conduct proper investigations in the event of an accident. Make sure all your managers know how to respond to workplace accidents. For example, fatal accidents, unlike less severe incidents, need to be reported to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours.
- Make sure your company culture promotes a safety-conscious space. Consider hosting workplace safety and health planning meetings, reinforcing required training, and dispersing training materials interpersonally on a regular basis. It’s also important to vocalize and remove identified hazards the moment they’re recognized. This not only stresses that injury prevention is a priority but encourages employees to report risks and trust that management will resolve them in a timely manner.
- Track your employees’ training. As you know, it is important to track employee training in hazard communication in order to avoid an OSHA citation.
- In addition to federal OSHA requirements, be mindful of state-specific statutes. For example, OSHA currently has implemented local emphasis programs in 28 states.
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