The manufacturing sector plays a huge role in supporting businesses across the world. Efficient manufacture and production of goods are crucial for sustainable businesses. The industry is closely related to and supports many other sectors and industries. Delays within the industry can have ripple effects across the world and bring businesses process worldwide to a standstill.
Unfortunately, the manufacturing industry also has some of the most dangerous workplaces.
Workers in manufacturing units often face hazardous conditions and without proper precautions, they may get fatal or debilitating injuries. Unsafe working conditions can negatively affect organizations’ operations and making the workplace safe will benefit them as well as the workers.
Here are six reasons why manufacturing units should invest in making their workplaces safe:
Manufacturing units cannot afford unplanned downtimes or delays. If the processes have to be stopped, the organization can incur significant costs from the loss of productivity. They’ll have to continue paying the workers for their time and spending resources to prevent the machinery from deteriorating. They may also face losses in the form of unfinished or poor-quality products.
Organizations in the manufacturing industries make significant investments to prevent downtimes. They ensure that their equipment is in perfect working order and conduct regular maintenance on them. If they were unable to deliver the products on time, it can affect their reputation and future business.
Accidents and mishaps can bring a manufacturing unit to a complete standstill. In the event of major disasters, the plant may have to be shut down until repairs are made.
By investing in safety equipment and practices, organizations can prevent downtime to a large extent.
When workers are afraid of getting hurt or injured, they’ll slow down their work in an attempt to make themselves safe. This can bring down productivity and delay or reduce the output from the manufacturing unit.
When workers are confident about their safety, they can work without friction. They won’t have to watch every one of their steps to make sure they don’t injure themselves or others around them. Proper safety techniques will minimize the risks and make the workers aware of them.
It will also improve the morale among workers when the organization invests in their safety. If there are too many accidents happening regularly in the workplace, workers are more likely to quit or become unproductive.
If the manufacturing unit sees a lot of accidents within a short time, the company will have to pay a higher premium to insurance providers. They may also have to pay a higher amount to provide health insurance for the employees.
In the worst-case scenario, insurance companies may even refuse to cover a manufacturing unit if they don’t implement safety procedures. They may even refuse to accept a claim if an accident occurred from a safety violation.
This can drive up the cost of running the manufacturing unit.
Investing in safety practices and having a good safety record can help the organization reduce the cost of insuring the workplace and the business from sudden financial losses.
There are many rules and regulations all over the world dictating safety practices in manufacturing units. Failure to comply can invite heavy fines and penalties and in some instances, regulatory authorities may even shut down the unit.
In the absence of safety protocols or practices, the workers may take legal action against the company if they’re injured.
Organizations can have severe losses in the event of a lawsuit. Their manufacturing units may be shut down during the pending investigation and may have to seek legal assistance both of which can be too expensive.
If the verdict shows that they’re guilty, it can bring severe fines and can even bring down the company.
A good safety record will improve your customers’, vendors’, and suppliers’ perceptions regarding your business. Most customers or businesses don’t like to be associated with manufacturers that don’t prioritize the safety of their workers. Businesses may even perceive it as a legal risk in the long term. They may also be concerned about the organization’s ability to deliver good quality products on time.
By investing in good safety practices, manufacturing units will have a good reputation which will help them get good business in the long run.
Falls are one of the biggest causes of injuries in the manufacturing industry. Slippery surfaces, materials strewn about, lack of safety harnesses, and other conditions can create a fall hazard within the manufacturing industry. Falls can cause create fractures, paralysis, and even death in extreme situations.
If materials and equipment are not properly stored in the workplace, they can create a tripping hazard. Fluid spills can also cause workers to slip and fall if they’re not cleaned up properly and on time.
Modern manufacturing units use a lot of tools and machinery that run on electricity. These equipment pose a risk of electrocution to workers operating them.
Faulty wiring can create electric arcs which can cause serious burns if workers are exposed to it. It can also cause equipment to heat up and injure its operators. Workers may also face direct electric shock from frayed wires or improper cabling. Temporary fixes using tape or other materials that may get dislodged under operation also pose a threat to the safety of workers and operators.
Manufacturing units often have a lot of pieces of machinery and equipment. They may be used to shape materials, cut them, connect them, or simply hold them in place. This machinery often exerts a lot of force on these materials to manipulate them.
Without proper safety measures, workers face the risk of getting caught in between them. Such accidents can cause fractures, amputations, and even death from excessive force.
Many factories and manufacturing units use equipment and machinery that may rotate or swing around to manipulate materials. Some of them may have operators but of late many factories have adopted automated and robotic manufacturing tools. Robotic manufacturing and assembling tools often have arms that can move around in different directions to grab or position materials.
Workers can get injured if they are struck by this equipment. They may face lacerations and fractures, and if the equipment is heavy enough, the injuries may be fatal.
They also face similar threats from vehicles like forklifts and cranes often used in manufacturing units.
All manufacturing units face fire hazards in different forms.
Many factories use flammable fluids and other materials for manufacturing and operating their equipment. In some cases, these gases and liquids may be directly used for manufacturing; for instance, acetylene torches are used for welding metal parts.
Factories may even have combustible dust or aerosols from manufacturing processes. In the right conditions, they may catch fire and cause burns.
Electrical wirings and outlets are another fire hazard in the manufacturing industry. If they’re not properly handled, electrical equipment can get heated up and catch fire.
Manufacturing processes often use toxic materials. They may be unprocessed raw materials, operating fluids for machines, paints, thinners, adhesives, and other substances that may cause health problems in the long run.
Workers may also be exposed to dust from grinding, cutting, drilling, and other processes involved in manufacturing. Long-term material storage facilities may also pose a risk of molds and fungus.
These toxic chemicals can cause breathing issues, trigger allergies, and even cause cancers. Some of them may even be fatal at high doses.
Workers who perform repeated motions, remain in the same posture for long durations, or face repeated forces to their bodies can face repetitive stress injuries. This includes bending down repeatedly, standing for long hours, hammering motions, or even holding heavy equipment without support. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the well-known examples of repetitive stress injury.
Repetitive stress injuries usually develop over time and can be highly painful. They can cause tremors, muscle cramps, and a feeling of pins and needles over the affected areas.
Workers in the manufacturing industry are often exposed to high noise levels. Many tools and machinery commonly used in manufacturing units produce high levels of noise.
Long-term noise exposure can damage workers’ hearing. Noise can also contribute to stress and cause lifestyle disorders.
Proper training can reduce safety risks to a large extent. Lack of training is one of the most common causes of accidents. All employees and workers entering the manufacturing units must be trained in the proper safety measures they have to follow. They should also be given additional training regarding the specific areas of work they focus on and the materials they interact with.
Workers in charge of operating the equipment must be well-trained. There should be clear guidelines to prevent unauthorized access to this equipment. Operators must also be trained to note and document any issues with the equipment they handle.
Manufacturing companies must provide adequate personal protective equipment for their workers. This is legally mandated in many countries and will reduce the risk of injury significantly. Workers should be provided with clothing that will keep them safe from equipment, machinery, and any debris. Operators handling equipment or tools must be provided that will protect them from specific risks from this machinery.
If workers will be exposed to dust or toxic fumes, they must have protection against them as well. Employees exposed to high noise levels must be provided adequate protection against them.
Besides the protective equipment, companies must also ensure that their workers have the right tools for the job they are doing. The equipment must also have adequate coverings and guards to ensure workers won’t get in between them or be exposed to heat or electricity.
When an operator is conducting maintenance on a piece of equipment, it should be properly disconnected from energy sources. This could be electrical, pneumatic, or other sources. If it is not properly disconnected or if the system is still storing energy, it can seriously injure the operator. If an operator accidentally turns on the equipment during maintenance, it can be very dangerous to people around them.
This is where lockout or tagout mechanisms come helpful. The idea is to place a lock and a tag with a note on it when it’s out for maintenance. The lock will be placed strategically so that you can’t connect the power source unless it is removed.
Even with proper safety protocols in place, over time these workers may slip and neglect them. They may stop wearing protective gear if it’s too uncomfortable, or even avoid turning off machines to make small repairs. Over time, convenience becomes more important than safety.
Over time, machinery will also face wear and tear and become a safety hazard. Operators may not notice this if they’re not looking for it.
This is where regular walkarounds and inspections become useful. With well-organized walkarounds and inspections, organizations can ensure that the machinery is in good condition. It can also ensure that the operators and workers are following proper safety precautions while doing their tasks.
Apps like TargPatrol can help organizations conduct effective walkarounds without straining resources.
Even when the organization has well-defined processes for ensuring safety, operators may ignore them over time, or simply forget to do some steps. This can cause accidents, particularly if they’re in a rush.
With extensive checklists, you can ensure that operators and workers are following the safety precautions to the dot. You can use tools like TargPatrol to implement these checklists and maintain records of them.
Safety comes from well-defined and implemented processes. But even the most detailed processes erode over time. But with tools like TargPatrol, you can implement regular walkarounds and detailed checklists which will ensure that the processes are followed to the dot.
The app can significantly automate the inspection processes and keep detailed logs. With RFID/NFC tags, the app will keep track of the walkaround process and make sure that no steps are missed.
Check out TargPatrol and make your workplace safer.