S afety should be a number one priority among manufacturers. Yet, without considering COVID-19, there is statics that estimates that while manufacturing accounts for 5% of all US workers, it accounts for 8% of workplace deaths.
What is considered normal now in the “safety world” will not always be that way. With advancements in workplace research, the world will have to develop a “new normal.” Below are listed seven protective measures that will improve safety in the workplace.
1. Complete Jobs Using the Right Equipment
Misuse of machinery and tools is the number one cause of workplace injury. It is your job to make sure your employees know the use of the tools and equipment and only use them for their intended purpose. Protecting equipment with preventative or reactive maintenance will prevent explosions or other injuries. Always provide training on the proper use of equipment to your employees.
Also, consider using authorized equipment add-ons and modifications to make them operate more safely. For example, forklift extensions are essential in manufacturing environments to prevent tipping accidents when moving oversized cargo.
2. Be Aware of Risks
A comprehensive risk assessment can spotlight dangerous problems and help avoid accidents. If you aren’t sure if you have the resources and insight to do this on your own, don’t hesitate to hire a professional who can point out issues within your particular operation. By doing this one thing, you can:
- Identify hazards
- Determine risk levels
- Review safety conditions
- Review working conditions
- Recommend necessary controls
The cornerstone of safety programs was and will always be audits and inspections. If it’s been a while since your last audit or safety inspection, or if you’ve never done one, it’s time to get started! If you evaluate your facilities, people, and processes, you’ll make your workplace much safer, compliant, and more efficient with federal and state safety regulations.
3. Quickly Address Safety Incidents
This safety tip is a matter of life or death and one of the most important safety tips in the industry. Do your teammates know what to do if there is a breach in safety protocols? Are you prepared to be Johnny on the Spot and know just what to do? A lot can go on in 30 minutes, and your reaction could save a life or save some money, or both.
The boy scouts had it right with their motto, “Be prepared.” If you are ready and have the plan to act, you can maximize the moments right after an incident—and prevent tons of fallout.
Below is a 10-step checklist recommended by industry experts on how to handle things should the worst happen:
- Have a plan you put into motion
- Reassure the workers that you will be there for them now and in the future.
- Make an initial diagnosis.
- Administer first aid.
- Calm the workers.
- Take care of the hazards that created the instance, if needed.
- Get help quickly.
- Have a manager go with the worker to the clinic.
- Follow up.
- Complete case management.
4. Reduce Trips, Slips, and Falls
As often as possible, daily if you can, take a walk through your facilities. What should you see?
- Aisles free of clutter
- Spill cleaning stations
- Anti-slip flooring
- Drip pans/guards easily available for spills
- Clean workstations
- Look for loose boards
- Look for holes/protruding nails
Because of COVID, you may find that money is tighter than normal, but you don’t want to forego maintenance as a cost-cutting measure. It is your duty to ensure that your workers have a safe place to work every day.
5. Prevent Fire Hazards
Ensure that you are meeting all local fire codes. Look out for bulky items blocking doorways and walkways, and get rid of them as soon as possible!
If you are using materials that can catch on fire, ensure that you have stored them off-site appropriately. If you have waste that could become combustible, it should be in metal containers that are appropriately emptied daily.
6. Falling Objects are Preventable
There are many ways to safeguard workers against falling items; nets, toe boards, and toe rails are just a few. In the warehouse, you should keep heavy objects stored down low to lessen the risk of something heavy falling from up high. Stack boxes up and down.
7. Regularly Hold Safety Meetings
While training is important, it’s not the only time workers should discuss safety. There should be regular and expected safety meetings. Some plants even conduct them daily, others only once every two months. How many accidents and safety violations you see in the workplace should help to govern how much and how many safety meetings you are having.
What is a toolbox talk? It’s usually an informal and short (5 to 10-minute) conversation about a specific hazard more than likely related to a current project. On the other hand, safety meetings are more formal than toolbox talks and typically longer and more in-depth.
There’s a correct way to conduct safety meetings:
- Focus–one issue at a time
- You don’t want to be too long, but you also don’t want to be too short (20-45 min)
- Get your employees involved in creating and running meetings.
- Use different forms of media to reach your audience (videos, slideshows, interactive activities, social media, etc.)
- Document and track meetings to improve them in the future.
8. PPE is a Must When Cleaning and Operating Machinery
PPE, or personal protective equipment, is very important when dealing with materials that could be hazardous. Under OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations, the PPE listed below reduces the potential for injury and is mandatory in certain situations:
- Safety hoods
- Hard hats
- Full-body suits
When on the factory floor, workers should always be wearing the required PPE.
9. Make Safe Lifting Procedures Mandatory
There is a correct way to lift things to avoid getting hurt. As the owner, it is your job to ensure that workers know the correct way to lift heavy objects. Workers should be instructed to lift with their legs and keep their backs straight rather than twisting and stooping. If you have lots of heavy objects to move, consider forklifts and other machines to lift these. Don’t count on workers to be able to lift heavy objects.
Prioritizing Workplace Safety is Everyone’s Job
Safety should be at the top of the to-do list for management and workers. From management’s perspective, creating a safe work environment is a matter of good stewardship, creating corporate citizenship that everyone can buy into. It can improve production by bolstering morale and minimizing downtime. Making safety a place where you make cost-saving cuts is not advised.
The money you spend today to make your facilities safer for tomorrow will create goodwill and give value to your business in the future. Don’t forget to conduct a comprehensive safety risk assessment, explore tax breaks for implementing safety protocols at your facility, and evaluate investment alternatives.
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