Workplace safety is one of the key concerns of every manufacturing company and facility. Getting it right can help the whole operation’s performance and results grow, while safety issues may cost you time, money, injuries, and even reputational damages. So you want to take really good care of that before anything bad happens. And unfortunately, bad things do happen.
In 50 years, since President Richard Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, the incidence rate of nonfatal injuries at workplaces has dropped from the average of 10.9 cases per 100 full-time workers in 1972 to the average of 2.8 cases in 2018, but there’s still a long way to go.
Still today, over 100,000 manufacturing workers are becoming victims of job-related injuries every year. Even with OSHA’s regulations and rules, manufacturing companies must have a company culture that embodies a safety attitude.
Thanks to our extensive experience working with manufacturing companies, we were able to collect and explore the best safety practices in manufacturing, and the following article is a summary of what we’ve learned.
To put it simply, our own and our clients’ experience proves that investing the time and money in thorough workplace safety training will save you a ton on churn, sick leave, and medical insurance payments, in the long run, utilizing safety checklists and workflows will help workers stay alert and ready, reducing the risk of incidents, and using dedicated modern software solutions for manufacturing management for immediate reporting and constant control over the facility will raise the overall safety standards and help increase the flawless production performance rates.
Connecteam is proud to be the employee management app of choice for many manufacturing companies, and their most common use cases include:
- Raising Safety Standards and Awareness
- Day-to-Day Digital Reporting and Checklists
- Streamlining Communication to Deskless Employees
- Making SOPs and Company Protocols Available
- Human Resources needs
- Compliance Purposes
Learn from others’ mistakes and save yourself some serious cash and time by following these 13 safety ideas for manufacturing. What you need are the best strategies to build a world-class safety program and culture to positively impact your bottom line.
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1. Prevent Risks by Early Reporting
If you’re an employee — don’t be afraid to take initiative. When it comes to your own and your colleagues’ safety — there is no playing too safe!
Whenever you’re at the workplace and spot something that has the potential to go wrong — fix it if you can, or raise the flag!
As soon as there’s something that is potentially unsafe, or at least you think might be — don’t take chances and report it to your supervisor or the responsible manager.
If you are a manager, and especially a safety manager — it is your moral and legal obligation to keep your people and their working environment safe and take immediate actions to guarantee it. Let them help you by embedding the early warning strategy.
A dripping hose, an open window, a loose bolt, or even a wet floor might cause incidents, damages, or even injuries — so make sure every hazard possibility is taken seriously and reported right away.
Stimulate people to be alert and report anything they are unsure about, in order to locate possible hazards before they bring damages.
2. Create And Follow Checklists To Never Miss Important Stuff Again
You must identify everything that can lead to a hazard before you plan the safety protocols at your company. Use the following checklist to determine potential hazards:
- What service/product is the company providing?
- What machinery will employees be exposed to and need to operate?
- Are there any hazardous chemicals present in the workplace?
- Is there a likelihood of fall risks in the workplace?
Create a checklist that also includes hazards like fire, electrical, and ergonomic, you can find sample programs from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website to know exactly what topics to cover. You must identify anything that your employees can be exposed to in order to create a process on how the material should be safely used and what to do in case of an incident. Most categories have OSHA-certified guidelines that are typically consistent across industries so customize your protocols to these procedures.
Now that you have identified the risks, you must also prepare checklists for your employees. The most common checklists include, but are not limited to:
- Safety hazard observation
- Incident report
- Vehicle accident report
- Safety inspection form (for supervisors)
- Repair order ticket
- QA checklist
- Safety inspection checklist.
When employees must go through a checklist when arriving at the job site or before using equipment, the chances of incidents or injuries drop dramatically. Plus, daily operations are a key component for many manufacturing companies, therefore checklists are frequently used in order to reduce friction from day-to-day activities, automate the flow of information, improve response time, and gain better oversight.
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3. Embed Safety Culture Into Your Company’s DNA
You can’t create a safe workplace and environment just through safe equipment and procedures alone. True safety in the manufacturing industry can be achieved only by building a safety-focused company culture where every single employee feels responsible and empowered to alert managers to safety concerns.
“Schneider Electric’s motto is work safe, watch out for each other. If you’re not 100% sure you can complete a job safely, stop work. It’s not enough to keep yourself safe. You need to think and act to prevent hazards for the next person.” – Jim Spurlock, staff safety and environmental engineer.
When employees lead the safety processes, from management to the field, everyone is involved in every part of the company’s safety efforts so hazard reporting and corrective actions are on all staff members to execute. This kind of safety culture helps build ownership across the entire company.
Here’s one great example of a manufacturing company which considers safety culture a top priority:
Make sure that you let your employees know that they’re protected by OSHA and will not be reprimanded for calling attention to problems. Encourage everyone to speak up because a strong safety culture can help promote low injury rates and lowers turnover rates. Make sure every employee is familiar with the top workplace safety tips.
4. Make Wearing Safety Gear A No-Brainer
Operating with and close to heavy objects and machinery, exposure to toxic materials, working in dark and cluttered spaces — all of the above can affect people’s health as well as expose the factory to potential risks like fires, explosions, accidents, and injuries. That’s why using safety gear and wearing protective clothing should be an absolute must for all employees at all times.
Whenever cleaning messes and using equipment at the workplace, you have to be wearing the proper safety equipment. If your company uses checklists, then you can go through the list to ensure nothing has been missed. When you are wearing the proper safety equipment and are thoroughly checking that your safety equipment is not damaged, the risk of injury is significantly lower.
5. Make Sure The Equipment, Tools, And Machines Are Used Properly
The most prevalent source of workplace injuries is the misuse of tools and machines. When you are handling equipment, you have to ensure that you use each equipment piece as intended and the correct way.
OSHA cites the following as five basic rules to help prevent hazards or incidents when handling equipment, tools, and machines:
- Maintain tools in good working condition with regular maintenance.
- The right tool must be used for the job.
- Careful examination of each tool for damage before use and using damaged tools are not appropriate.
- Use and operate tools according to the manufacturing instructions.
- Properly use the correct protective equipment.
Additionally, watch this Oregon OSHA’s video on Hazards identification:
6. Communicate Often With Your Employees
When you have two-way communication, you provide your employees with the opportunity to shape workplace safety. Through daily and monthly safety meetings, you are able to influence and prepare everyone on safety matters – discuss what went wrong, what was acted on and what needs to be fixed, and all ongoing safety projects. Ask your employees for input and be sure to give a congratulatory shoutout to departments that were injury-free.
“Safety is the very first thing we talk about at daily meetings. Any injury, first aid incident, or unsafe condition is always brought up first.” – Rex Krohn Jr., manager of global paint at John Deere
This kind of two-way street helps to reduce misunderstandings, keeps everyone on the same page, nothing slips between the cracks, productivity is boosted, the gap between managers and employees narrows, and everyone has a chance to be heard.
7. Promote The Culture Of Frequent Breaks
A lot of injuries occur when employees are too tired and are not able to observe the dangers surrounding them adequately. Additionally, repetitive actions and activities can lead to fatigue, especially when handling machines. By ensuring everyone takes regular breaks, you can stay more alert when on the clock.
Consider offering your personnel some fun activities in the middle of a long shift, like an all-hands 10-minute warm-up, stretching-session, or even team-building games, to have some rest from the routine work, relieve some stress and boost the morale.
8. Keep The Workspace Clean And Organized
By keeping the workplace clean, you can help prevent many injuries from happening. It is important to follow the six “s” rule – sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain, and safety.
9. Prevent Slips And Falls
As the second most prevalent cause of nonfatal occupational injuries, it is crucial that aisles are clear and spills are properly cleaned to prevent employees from injury. Another workplace safety tip is when dealing with liquids, use drip pans and guards, clean spills immediately in order to keep conditions safe, and be sure to check your workplace to ensure there are no holes, loose boards, or nails projecting from the floor. If any of these hazards are noted, be sure to replace or fix the item.
10. Promote Safe Work Techniques and Workplace Ergonomics
Having a good posture in the manufacturing industry actually leads to better productivity. Poor or bad posture adds unnecessary strain to the joints, muscles, and ligaments which can lead to more serious injury later on.
When lifting, follow these simple tips:
- Get help when lifting heavy or awkward objects.
- Have a firm grasp on the object before lifting.
- Have firm and good fitting when lifting heavy objects.
- Maintain a wide stance and get close to the object before you need to lift.
- Never bend at the waist in order to lift objects low to the ground.
- When needing to lift low objects, bend with your knees and hips – your legs should do most of the work.
When driving, be mindful of these tips:
- Do not extend your arms to reach the wheel.
- Your knees need to be able to bend and comfortably reach the pedals.
- Adjust the height of your seat so that your knees are at the same level as your hips or higher.
- Ensure that your back is straight and resting on the back of the seat when driving.
- Use a lumbar roll to add support to the curve of your back.
With mindfulness and practice, maintaining a good posture will come naturally and easily.
11. Make Regular Inspections And Check-ups
Create audit checklists for the entire company that each supervisor must go through to review the hazards and safety suggestions within their respective department. Additionally, you can review your system to outline all injuries, illnesses, and near misses so that you can create corrective action for each safety concern, and assign a supervisor to complete the action. When you can rid the root cause of hazards then you create a safe environment for all.
12. Network And Share Experience
Work with suppliers, fire and police professionals, and insurance agents to address problem prevention and safety ideas for manufacturing. Together, you can draw up potential hazards and protection for your entire staff. When you have more eyes, especially from the outside, you are able to create a full risk assessment.
“Insurance companies are a valuable resource. Insurance experts can tour your facility, identify hazards, and make recommendations. It isn’t a recommendation when OSHA comes. Also, fire professionals can assess potential fire threats and run extinguisher training. And local police can help prepare for and prevent emergencies.” – Jon Burk, safety manager at Therma-Tron-X, Inc. (TTX)
13. Deliver Consistent Safety Training To Employees
Training is your opportunity to help build risk management into every aspect of your company. This kind of focus provides your employees with the tools they need to protect themselves, your customers, and also your company.
Some training tips for safety ideas for manufacturing include:
- Identify safety concerns for your company.
- Set training goals.
- Develop practical learning activities.
There are numerous regulatory demands that you have to adhere to, from entities like OSHA and state health and safety authorities. Therefore, when you plan your safety training program, make sure your goal isn’t just to comply with regulatory demands, but also to minimize incidents, maximize awareness, and keep employees healthy, happy and productive.
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Hundreds of manufacturing companies choose Connecteam to raise safety standards and awareness, streamline daily processes, boost communication, better compliance, optimize training, and more.
How do manufacturing companies raise safety standards with Connecteam’s all-in-one mobile app?
- Quick and easy reporting makes it easier for all employees to report in real-time, whether in the office or in the field. and automatically send this to the relevant officer/supervisor for further evaluation and response. The following daily reports can be done via mobile, which saves a ton of time, safety hazard observation, incident report, vehicle accident report, safety inspection checklist, expense reimbursement, visitor request form, and so much more.
- Sharing digital resources allows all safety protocols, tips, and resources to be available in a click, along with ‘lessons learned’, incident findings, and periodical safety tips. Resources like standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), employee handbook, code of ethics, emergency procedures, and more are available at a tap.
- Ongoing safety training allows managers and safety officers to keep a close eye on how each employee is doing. In-app training includes health and safety training, driving-related training, equipment usage and maintenance, tests and quizzes, and more.
Streamlining communication and distribution of updates and protocols can be done in the click of a button. Such as sharing incident finding reports, procedure updates, real-time updates on prohibitions, or risk factors like bad weather. Through the in-app directory, it’s easy to find the work contact you need. Start chat groups to better day-to-day communication more easily and efficiently. Or send formal and informal announcements with push notifications.
All of the above may sound ridiculously expensive, but Connecteam, pricing starts at $39/month for up to 50 users! So start your free plan now to benefit from all of Connecteam’s features.
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