10 Good Practices To Improve Safety In Your Manufacturing Site

Oct 7, 2021 3:01:43 PM | 10 Good Practices To Improve Safety In Your Manufacturing Site

Safety is the cornerstone of every factory. Beyond meeting legal compliance, safety is critical for protecting your employees and reducing accidents. Surprisingly, most factory owners know little about their ‘safety culture’, but they know too well the costs of unintended injuries.

Manufacturing is one of the most dangerous industries in which you can work. According to BLS (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics), there are between 300 and 350 deaths on an annual basis associated with manufacturing. And over the years that number keeps on climbing. If not properly managed, the chance of some major incident causing injuries or even fatalities increases.

With a myriad of regulations and standards to be aware of – from safeguarding your workforce to ensuring your product meets the safety benchmarks – it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest changes.  In today’s competitive environment, staying on top of workplace safety requirements is no luxury.  

You know that your safety program is a crucial part of your business and that authorities such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration will give you huge fines if any of them discover any issues. In this article, we will cover common hazards in the manufacturing sector and give you actionable tips to help improve safety in the workplace.

Define Safety in Manufacturing Sites

The ideal safe working environment is dependent upon many factors, from worker training to machine guarding, housekeeping and much more.

Safety is a prime concern for plant managers. They want to make sure the workplace is safe , and that workers are protected if something goes wrong. 

The goal of safety is to ensure that all individuals are able to safely perform their duties. This takes into account the mechanical equipment, the physical environment, and ultimately the individual employees who are the end users of the equipment. A safe environment does not exist by accident, rather it must be created at all organizational levels.

Having a health and safety program in place means you have a strategic approach to managing the risks on your property. It means you have a systematic way to identify workplace hazards and focus on prevention. It also helps protect assets of your business and provide a safe workplace for your employees and visitors.

 

Common Health and Safety Issues in Manufacturing Industry

As if you needed any more reason to bolster your safety in the manufacturing industry, here are a few safety hazards you’ve probably already crossed paths with:

 

Falls

Falls are one of the top three causes for injury in the manufacturing workplace. All the time and money spent on safety gear won't do you much good if you're not paying attention to where you're going. This is unfortunately illustrated by just how many workplace incidents are the result of falls, trips, and slips each year. A recent (2019) statistic showed that falls were the number one cause of workplace deaths- more than 30% of all workplace fatalities are the result of a fall. 

Falls are costly for workers, sometimes ending careers, and are often tragic. Therefore, fall protection training should be a priority.

 

Machine Guarding

The apparent stability of heavy machinery being used every day reinforces the notion that the machines are safe. That's why it's important to have certain safety measures in place. there are no guarantees that incidents will happen only during operating the machine, or that none will happen while the machine is not in operation. 

 

Powered Equipment 

Injuries from powered industrial equipment are a top hazard of manufacturing jobs. Workers should receive proper training to mitigate the risk of injury from this hazard. 

 

Electrical Hazard

Accidental contact with electrical components and machinery can be lethal. The good news is, you can avoid electric shock by making sure that wiring is insulated, equipment is installed properly, and electrical panels are locked. Utilizing simple safety precautions and checking common areas of hazard can limit electrical incidents and protect your workers.

 

The Control of Hazardous Energy

 

Otherwise known as lockout or tagout, this is one of the most commonly reported hazards, according to OSHA. 

 

Machine operators must adhere to safety protocols and wear proper protective equipment.

 

If a technician is working with heavy machinery, he or she should follow procedures to ensure accidental start-up and energy discharge do not happen. When performing an inspection of heavy machinery with the intent of servicing, technicians are at risk of accidental start-up and energy discharge. Therefore, proper procedures must be executed to ensure that this does not happen. 

If you work in the manufacturing sector, you should use lockout and tagout procedures to ensure accidents don't happen.

Want to avoid these common hazards? Here are our top ten best safety practices in manufacturing:

 

10 Good Safety Practices

 

1. Identify your biggest risk areas

The above list of safety hazards are the most commonly reported. Identifying which risk categories are a threat to the safety of your workers is a key step towards minimizing the likelihood of joining those statistics. 

Once you have identified where your greatest risk factors lie within your organization and workplace, you are empowered to act on them and focus efforts towards reducing the risk. This can be done through a properly managed safety program that promotes a robust safety culture. 

2. Rapid response

A quick response is the best response. When you have an incident take place- there is nothing you can do to change what has happened. The best thing to do is to surge ahead with the necessary disaster management, it could save lives as well as prevent the situation from escalating. 

But when a safety issue rears its head, it can be difficult to keep the workplace calm and under control- especially when it is a life-threatening situation.

Use these tips when responding to a serious safety issue:

  • Be prepared. Draft a plan before an event takes place. When something does happen, the plan is already there and you won't have your management team spinning out- they just need to follow the plan. As simplistic as it sounds, it can help to keep both management and workers calm if they have a plan to follow, or at the very least can see that a person in charge is authoritatively taking control with a plan at hand. 
  • Delegate. This should fall under your plan. Identify key personnel that can assist in the event of an emergency. These roles should be clearly defined and have a protocol to follow too. This can look like a middle management personnel doing crowd control, for example.
  • Reassure. If possible, make sure that the worker or workers involved in the incident know they will be taken care of.
  • Initial Diagnosis & First Aid. If applicable, perform first aid after assessing the situation and making an initial diagnosis. 
  • Control the Hazards. Control the hazard (if necessary) that created the situation. This will prevent further damage from being done. 
  • Contact Relevant Emergency Services. Call for help if needed (emergency services or another service to manage the crisis if needed)
  • Accompany & Support. The worker will most probably head to the clinic to do a full assessment, even if he or she appears physically unharmed. Ensure a manager is available to accompany the worker
  • Follow up. Always do a comprehensive follow-up after an incident takes place Audits and inspections

3. Audits and inspections

Manufacturing is one of the most hazardous industries out there. You can easily minimize your risk by conducting frequent audits and inspections.

Performing frequent inspections and audits on the workplace will help to manage any threats to safety. Hazards and incidents are often the result of underlying risks that could have been mitigated with an audit or inspection. 

Make sure that the workers are aware that these audits and inspections are not there to check up, reprimand or police them- instead, they are performed so that the workers are always in as safe a working environment as possible. 

Safety audits and inspections are essential for protecting your workers, but it can be hard to keep track of what you need to do. Using a platform or software to keep track of what you have already done, what needs to be done, and what needs to be followed up is an essential investment in your company’s safety program. 

4. Get familiar with preventative and corrective measures

If you find any risks that could develop into potential hazards, take actions to prevent them from becoming critical hazards. If you find any threatening hazards, implement the appropriate corrective measures to reduce the risk. 

Safety is a team effort, and you should direct employees to take corrective actions to resolve safety issues whenever you can. If no immediate hazards are identified but there are areas which could become worse or need improvement, take preventive measures. After you complete an inspection or audit, your corrective actions should focus on removing existing hazards.

5. Effective Training

The more training that workers have before they begin their jobs, the less likely it is that they will make mistakes that cause injuries or equipment damage, right? Well, instead of focusing on the amount of training- focus on the quality of training. 

Ensure employees are engaged and actively participating in safety briefings and training. To do this, you could make use of the tools VITS offer to help keep employees engaged- including adding videos to your training. 

It is also important you train all new workers first before sending them out into the fray, and then retrain periodically. Make sure they can do their jobs, operate machinery, wear and maintain safety equipment correctly, and adapt to any new processes, policies, machines, and regulations. 

6. Conduct Regular Safety Meetings 

Aside from the necessary training, it is essential that you hold regular safety meetings. While some manufacturers hold safety meetings several times a month, there are others that only hold them once every three months or so. 

Analyse your safety incidents and reports- are you seeing the incident rate rising? If so, you should upp the frequency of your safety meetings. But it's important that your employees don't feel like they are being talked down to or being lectured, instead, take the time to design engaging meetings where employees can get involved, and where they feel heard. 

To conduct an effective safety meeting keep the following in mind:

  • Tackle one issue at a time
  • Keep it no less than 20 minutes, but no more than 45. 
  • Rotate the roster so that different employees are involved in the creation and conduction of these meetings. Safety ideas for manufacturing can be a discussion shared by all employees, this keeps them engaged in the training and stimulates a safety mindframe.
  • Use mixed media to help keep a steady grasp on employee’s concentration. Keep it to the point, but don’t make it boring!
  • Track the meetings so that you can analyse the results and use this information to boost the success of future safety meetings.

7. Use Toolbox Talks

While this is a bit of a run on from the previous tip, it is useful enough to deserve its own listing on the top ten chart. There are many reasons why you should conduct Toolbox Talks, and we detail them here {insert article about Toolbox Talks}. But for simplicity’s sake we’ll keep it short and sweet: Use them because they work. 

Toolbox Talks are short ‘briefings’ that can be done prior to work commencing on a new area, or as a reminder for employees working in a high risk environment- which is most often the case for those in the manufacturing sector. 

8. Create and Grow a Safety Culture

A safety culture is the cornerstone of a workplace’s health and safety program- not just in the manufacturing industry but across the board. Read our articles on how {insert how article on how to create a safety culture} and why {insert article on why safety culture is important} a safety culture is one of the crucial elements in keeping your workplace safe. When it comes down to it, safety needs to become an integral part of an employee’s mindset, so that the term ‘safety minded' becomes a verb and not just a noun. 

9. Stay on top of regulatory paperwork

Different countries will have different regulations and enforcements. And sometimes even within countries, there are area-specific regulations and agencies to ensure your business is compliant. Staying on top of paperwork and necessary regulations dramatically reduces chances of an incident (you can spot issues that might be hiding in bureaucracy) and it can also dramatically reduce the amount of fines your company will be slapped with if you are found to be lacking in your paperwork after a spot inspection. 

Since you can't afford to take any chances, be sure to work with an expert who will help your business comply with the appropriate regulations. Using a management system like VITS to help organise and automate your paperwork can be one of the best (and simplest) safety prevention methods you can implement. 

10. Automate and Stay Organized with VITS 

Are you still relying on excel sheets or pen and paper to manage your manufacturing workplace safety? Are employees still required to sit and read through lengthy pages of what is supposed to be a ‘training’? If so, your safety program is in bad shape. Vintage might be great for style- but it can really bring your workplace safety down. You are putting your company and employees at risk if you are not using software geared towards managing safety in the workplace. 

Whether you choose to use VITS or not, the fact is that you should not be relying on manual methods of data capturing and safety management. 

How to Implement these Practices to Improve Safety

The first step is to analyse your existing workplace safety and policy. Use this list to see where improvements can be made. Next up, you should implement a safety management software to automate many essential tasks, reminders and paperwork. Digitising your health and safety program can improve the workplace’s overall safety by:

  • Allowing a broad overview to check where improvements need to be made
  • Automate many tasks to free up time that can be better spent ‘on the ground’
  • Align your workers with a safety mindset, cultivating a robust safety culture

How VITS can Help with this

Are you ready to transform manufacturing safety in your company and working environment? 

The phrase “manufacturing safety” may spark images of compliance forms, but it's so much more. Beyond established practices for managing hazards, effective safety starts with the right mindset, the right commitment, and the right tools. The VITS platform is designed to help you create that kind of environment—one that eliminates preventable accidents to deliver safer workplaces and create a safety focused environment for everyone. VITS is a strategically simple software designed by health and safety specialists to not only improve workplace safety for employees, but lessen the burden for health and safety specialists or even for companies with an appointed safety representative.  

Don’t get trapped in a safety nightmare of your own making. Take action on workplace hazards in your manufacturing company today, before they take you to task tomorrow.

Jaanika Jelistratov, Founder

Written By: Jaanika Jelistratov, Founder