The manufacturing industry is responsible for producing goods that are essential to our daily lives. From food and clothing to medical devices, this industry plays a vital role in providing us with basic necessities. However, safety has always been a concern for manufacturers. While some incidents are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce risks, minimize accidents and improve safety standards.
There are several ways to ensure workplace safety. One way is through training, which helps employees develop skills and knowledge needed to perform their jobs safely. Another way is through proper supervision, which involves ensuring workers follow correct procedures or guidelines. In this article, we explain what manufacturing safety is as well as share expert tips to optimize safety in the manufacturing industry.
What is manufacturing safety?
Manufacturing safety refers to all activities that take place in a facility during the production of goods or services. These include activities related to product design, quality control, maintenance, repair, cleaning, packaging, shipping, storage, transportation, installation, commissioning, training, and any other activity that takes place within a facility.
Different jobs fall under the category of the manufacturing industry, each of which comes with its own set of safety issues. Below are a few of the jobs that you can expect to find within the industry:
- Maintenance engineer
- Production manager
- Production worker
- Quality control technician
- Warehouse operative
All of these workers are involved in the manufacturing process in one way or another and manufacturing safety procedures are put in place to keep employees safe and prevent workplace accidents.
High-risk manufacturing safety hazards
- Operating heavy machinery
- Handling hazardous chemicals
- Electrical hazards
- Trip hazards
- Biological hazards
- Handling flammable material
- Using welding equipment
Although all manufacturing facilities face these potential hazards, if the work environment is properly controlled, employees are adequately trained to use the machinery and everyone is provided with protective equipment, you can mitigate the chances of workplace injuries occurring.
What is the importance of safety in the manufacturing industry?
Safety is an important part of any manufacturing process. It ensures that workers are protected from hazards such as heavy machinery or chemicals. In addition, safety helps prevent injuries and fatal accidents on work sites. Manufacturing companies that have safety protocols in place provide a safer workplace for employees.
Responsibilities under the occupational safety and health act
The occupational health and safety act was put in place to keep workers safe. It’s designed to ensure employers take responsibility for the well-being of employees and respect workers’ rights.
It’s the responsibility of employers to adhere to the government’s legislation, but it is the government’s responsibility to carry out inspections to ensure compliance. Inspectors are regularly deployed to manufacturing sites to assess the safety procedures in place.
They observe a variety of things, including the distribution and use of protective equipment, the safety of machinery operations, and the actual work that is being done. During their inspections, they make sure both employers and employees are doing everything they can to improve workplace safety.
Although the aim of workplace safety is to minimize the chances of accidents happening, at the end of the day, there’s nothing that can completely prevent them. Therefore, when incidents that involve serious injury, or potential death, occur it’s the role of the government to investigate the incident.
A third-party impartial inspector generally assesses the situation, and determines the cause of the incident. If it comes to light that the employer was negligent, the appropriate punishment is administered. It’s also during the investigation process that the victims’ compensation is agreed upon.
Promotion of training, education, and research
The promotion of training, education, and research is also specified in the occupational health and safety act. Training employers and employees is important because it ensures that everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing. When you train everyone, you create a standardized approach for work which reduces opportunities for error. Research is also essential as there is always more you can do to create safe working environments.
Tips to optimize safety in the manufacturing industry
Perform safety Gemba walks
Optimizing safety in your workplace requires constant assessments of your current procedures. Continuously checking what is working and looking for areas of improvement helps optimize safety procedures. The best way to implement continuous improvement in your manufacturing business is to perform regular safety Gemba walks.
Gemba walks follow the lean management philosophy of Kaizen, which promotes rapid improvements within businesses. Gemba walks consist of regularly touring your manufacturing floor to assess operations and identify ways to make the workplace safer.
Understand rules and regulations
The occupational safety and health act is designed to provide guidance for all employers on how to properly maintain a safe working environment. You need to read and fully understand the rules and regulations set out in the act in order to ensure you are meeting all the requirements that a manufacturing plant needs to adhere to.
Collaborate with workers
No one knows more about the working conditions than your workers. They know how everything works and they are the ones on-site every day. They are therefore your biggest asset when it comes to improving manufacturing safety. Getting feedback from workers regarding what could be improved to make them feel safer will give you direct insights into the changes you should make. Moreover, when workers feel listened, it can boost employee morale.
Identify the greatest risk
If you’re aware of what the risks are in your workplace, you are better prepared to deal with them. You need to identify the areas of concern that need your attention. Once these areas have been identified, you can then determine the best ways to minimize the risks. For example, if the handling of hazardous materials is your biggest risk, you need to ensure everyone has proper PPE. If dangerous machinery is your biggest risk you need to provide everyone with adequate training.
Manufacturing safety software
Manufacturing safety should be at the top of all employers’ priority list. Without proper safety procedures, company owners put employees at risk, which reflects badly on their reputation. The best way to make sure you create the safest possible working environment is to invest in manufacturing safety software. The Gemba walk app helps manufacturers collect data surrounding workplace safety. You can then use this data and the insights get through your safety Gemba walks to create a safer environment and promote worker safety.
Our Gemba walk software allows you to:
- Easily take digitized notes
- Reduce data collection time
- Obtain invaluable insights
- Integrate your information into a task management software