Top 5 Manufacturing Safety Training Tips
The manufacturing industry is among the top five employers in the U.S. today, comprising 8.51% of the total workforce in the country and, thereby, encompassing an enormous variety of worksites. The working conditions and safety hazards at any given manufacturing facility, therefore, vary greatly, as do the safety practices and overall safety culture of each employer. But, no matter the workspace, occupational safety is fundamental. And, based on the safety risks and potential hazards associated with each unique work environment, companies will usually provide training sessions and implement an array of safety measures and often rigorous safety procedures to avert unsafe conditions for their employees, minimize the potential for workplace accidents, and generally ensure employee safety and productivity. Meanwhile, we’ve put together a list of five essential manufacturing safety tips that one should adhere to in order to help guarantee workplace safety across the board.
1. Safeguard Your Areas of Greatest Risk
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most frequent safety violations have to do with the following: machine guarding (i.e., protection guidelines, procedures, and mechanisms in place when operating heavy machinery such as forklifts, automated assembly lines, power presses, etc.); the lockout/tagout standard (aka LOTO), a two-step control method which ensures dangerous equipment is properly shut off and exposure to hazardous energy is prevented; the hazard communication standard (i.e., adequately informing fellow employees and colleagues about potential dangers); the respiratory protection standard (i.e., minimizing exposure to hazardous materials through the use of respirators and other safety equipment); and electrical wiring methods. The specific work areas within any given facility obviously differ greatly and, therefore, should each have their own individual safety rules in place. But knowing, assessing, and minimizing the greatest potential for risk should always be a priority.
2. Manage Safety Incidents Effectively
It is vital that both employers and employees partake in frequent training programs and safety meetings addressing all the possible safety topics in their place of work — not only to familiarize themselves with the most up-to-date general workplace safety tips and recommendations but to also be able to adhere to all the necessary requirements and regulations at all times. That said, no system is foolproof, and even with the most vigorous and diligent safety programs in place, accidents and workplace injuries can still occur. And that’s precisely when your safety training becomes indispensable. Response time, risk assessment, proper use of PPE (i.e., hard hats, safety glasses, respirators, etc.), familiarity with all the necessary procedures from machine guarding to first aid to evacuation strategies, and clear communication are all essential factors in safety management if things do go wrong. Being prepared is key, and knowing how to respond to a dangerous situation quickly and effectively will help ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
3. Conduct Safety Audits and Inspections
To prevent potential incidents and establish a healthy safety culture in general, oversight in the form of training as well ergonomics — i.e., drills, safety meetings, frequent monitoring and check-ups, and relevant audits and thorough inspections — is crucial. EHS (environment, health, and safety) is the basic principle all companies must abide by here, making sure, in simple terms, that employees, the general public, and the environment are safe from harm. The ways to go about this are countless and depend on each individual worksite. But from keeping emergency exits unobstructed at all times, verifying that all necessary certifications and licenses are up to date, and ensuring that all machinery and personnel safety equipment are in good condition and functioning properly, to ensuring that all your workers’ and customers’ safety needs are met and addressing any ongoing or potential issues (i.e., hazard communication) — it’s essential that you stay fully aware of what’s happening on the floor, in the office, and outside the workplace day in and day out. Another key factor is providing incentives for employees to adhere to (and, thereby, set) the highest possible safety standards — i.e., benefits, bonuses, rewards, etc.; in other words, acknowledging when a job is done right should not be overlooked either.
4. Set Up A Communication System for High Noise Areas
Manufacturing communication trends have undergone a lot of changes since 2020, and the global pandemic has introduced an array of new safety guidelines to nearly every manufacturing facility in the country. But, with the manufacturing industry being, by definition, mostly hands-on, countless factories, plants, warehouses, and other worksites continue to face such challenges as high levels of noise due to the machinery and equipment used. And, while a phone may be sufficient in some settings, it can actually be a hazard in many others. It is essential that your employees can communicate effectively and with relative ease in any environment, so make sure you establish and maintain a safe and healthy system of communicating through the use of high noise headsets, as well as hand signals, gestures, clearly visible signs, lights, and other visual and non-verbal cues.
5. Follow OSHA Guidelines
And, finally, there’s a reason that OSHA is an everyday word in countless worksites across the country. From safety and hazard management to education and training to workers’ rights and protections, the organization is the leading authority on work safety standards and procedures in the U.S., and the manufacturing industry and its practices are no exception. Familiarize yourself and your employees with its rules and guidelines, stay informed and up-to-date about any changes and developments therein, and implement your own safety policies accordingly. When it comes to manufacturing safety, the guidelines provided by OSHA are an invaluable resource and cannot be overestimated.
Adequate safety training is an essential part of the effective functioning of any business, and the manufacturing industry particularly can face a great many challenges when it comes to keeping everyone involved healthy and safe from harm. Adhering to the safety tips above, educating and familiarizing yourself with your workplace, and knowing and abiding by the latest local and national safety standards will help guarantee that your business, its employees, partners and customers, and the general public at large have one less thing to worry about at the end of the day, and that the manufacturing industry in the U.S., thus, continues to thrive.