The US’ manufacturing industry is one of the leading success stories for the nation, being responsible for employing more than 8% of the entire workforce. Work in manufacturing is bountiful, as skilled technicians and engineers remain in high demand.
But manufacturing plants and factories also have considerable caveats in the form of unique safety concerns, that need to be met equitably and comprehensively. Here are some of the most important aspects of safety procedure in manufacture.
Inspect and Maintain Equipment Regularly
Industrial environments come with a wide variety of unique and specific hazards, relating to the equipment and machinery that define them. Equipment maintenance is vital to worker safety, in ensuring every item of equipment works as it should and without any nasty surprises.
Maintenance logs should be kept for every piece of machinery, illustrating when previous checks have been undertaken and if any repairs have been made or scheduled. Keeping track of maintenance means no piece of equipment is left behind.
Prevent Slips and Trips
Despite the numerous bespoke hazards that manufacturing environments and workshops present to the workers within them, the biggest dangers come from the more mundane risks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most common form of fatal workplace injury is the humble slip, trip or fall with more than a third of worker deaths attributed to one.
With this sobering statistic in mind, minimizing the risk of slips and trips is one of the most important parts of workshop or factory floor health and safety. When it comes to the installation of equipment, wire duct should be used to keep power and data cables organized and off the ground. Spills, whether of water, chemicals or lubricant material, should be dealt with expediently and signposted. The floor should be swept frequently to minimize the risk of slipping on debris.
Elimination and mitigation are high in the ‘hierarchy of controls’, being efforts that reduce the level of risk encountered by a worker. But some risks cannot be directly minimized; for example, a worker may need to engage with dangerous moving machinery in a maintenance capacity. In these instances, personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential final barrier between worker and hazard.
It is a business’ legal duty to provide PPE to workers free of cost, and proportionate to the hazards they encounter in their line of work. Training should also be provided that ensures workers know how to properly use the PPE they are given.
Promote Safe Working Practices
Beyond the direct health and safety measures that can reduce risk for both workers and visitors, it is also important that the site espouses general safe working practices. This might include regular breaks, especially for workers in intensive roles. Ensuring workers have access to amenities such as hot drinks and snacks can also serve to keep them safe and well-attended throughout their shift.
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