David Peacock: 4 Safety Tips in Manufacturing
At Hytrol, we create the most advanced material handling solutions in the world, and we couldn’t do that without the dedication of each and every employee who walks through these doors. We also recognize that a manufacturing facility has the potential for a higher rate of accidents than working in an office cubicle. Safety is more than a metric to us— it’s a guarantee that we’ll get each employee home safely to their families and friends.
Taking steps toward your workers’ safety is imperative to a thriving environment. It creates more loyal employees, improves quality, and reduces the costs of injuries. You want to take all the steps you can toward building a safe environment before an accident happens. These are four practical solutions that will move your workplace toward a safer environment.
1. Create a culture of communication
Empower your employees. This is an important component of having a healthy workplace overall, but it’s absolutely crucial when it comes to employee safety. People should know who they can go to with any safety issues and with ideas to make processes safer. One way you can do this is by creating safety committees. It’s not enough, however, to have only these designated committees; creating a safety committee in and of itself means very little if they aren’t empowered and if there isn’t an expectation of results. Employees become more involved with safety initiatives when they have a voice and when they can make a difference.
Each member of your company, including your leadership, must actively participate in the culture of safety and communication. Make sure your people understand that you mean it when you say “safety first.” If they think it will please their superiors to do a job more quickly by navigating more risk, they may just do it. Your actions and decisions must support safety.
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2. Maintain standardized work processes
A standard work process is a detailed breakdown of the tasks of a particular aspect of your work into elements which are sequenced organized and repeatedly followed. In short, these are guides to do the job right and to do it well.
Standardized work processes create a baseline for each employee in your facility. Not only does that improve quality and performance; it keeps people safe. These work processes identify the steps during the task that may expose an employee to a hazard, and include the requirements for using approved equipment to prevent injuries. The process in a hot area might include a standardized rotation to reduce exposure to heat; a job task that includes sharp edges would specify wearing gloves.
3. Check for clean workspaces
One of the most important, most practical, and yet most overlooked safety practices is to keep a clean workspace. Slips, trips, and falls cause the majority of general industry accidents, and employees can easily be injured on sharp parts hanging into aisles.
Conduct periodic inspections of all work areas and implement this into a standard work process to satisfy cleanliness requirements. At Hytrol, we follow Kaizen 6S, which designates the following:
- Sort – remove anything not needed
- Stabilize – keep everything in its place
- Shine – clean the workspace
- Standardize – maintain and monitor
- Sustain – follow the rules
- Safety – eliminate any hazards
4. Create a comfortable environment
When is the last time you took a walk in 100+ degree weather? Now, imagine working in that for 8 hours a day. You probably can’t fully appreciate the benefits of a comfortable environment until you’ve experienced an excessively uncomfortable one.
Extreme heat and cold are distracting, so taking steps toward a comfortable environment allows your employees focus on exactly what they need to focus on: working safely to make high-quality products. If your workplace conditions are too hot, consider installing a cooling system for your facility. Your people and your safety team will thank you for it.
Safety is about more than the bottom line. It’s about creating a culture in which employees are recognized as the most valuable component of the company. They, in turn, will be passionate, engaged, and dedicated in their work. World-class safety opens the door to world-class service.