In the manufacturing world, safety should be your highest priority. Improving the safety of your workplace will prevent injuries and deaths, keeping your workers safe and helping them feel more confident in your organization. You’ll also streamline efficiency, since you won’t have to cease operations to address an emergency situation – and you’ll save a lot of money in the process.
No matter which way you look at it, making safety a priority is a no-brainer – but many manufacturing business owners still neglect important, fundamental steps they could take to improve the safety of their workplace.
So what are the best and most important ways to improve safety in the manufacturing workplace?
Invest in Better Equipment
First, you can invest in better equipment. Upgrading your material handling systems to the latest and greatest machines will give employees access to the fastest, most efficient, and most hands-off machinery possible.
With better, more modern equipment, there will be less room for error – and possibly more safety features to keep your employees safe.
Practice Preventative Maintenance
Next, make sure you’re following proper preventative maintenance procedures. One of the leading causes of injuries in manufacturing workplace environments is failing or improperly tended equipment; a missing component, a worn part, or a faulty process is all it takes for someone on your team to be injured. It’s important to review the condition and performance of your heavy machines regularly – and take action when you notice something wrong, before it causes a real problem.
Train and Educate Your Employees
One of the best things you can do for your manufacturing business’s safety is better train and educate your employees. If your employees are confident and they know what they’re doing, they’ll be much less likely to injure themselves.
Be sure to cover the following:
· Proper tool and equipment use. Make sure all your employees know how to handle and use your tools – especially powerful and heavy ones. They should be familiar with inspection, preparation, proper posture, and use – as well as how to clean and store the tools and equipment properly.
· Safety equipment. Your employees should also be familiar with the types of safety equipment that are available to them and how to use those pieces of equipment properly. Depending on the area of your manufacturing business in which they work, they may be responsible for wearing a hard hat, goggles, gloves, masks, or other protective gear; don’t allow this to be neglected.
· Workflow and procedures. Each employee on your team should also be intimately familiar with workflows and proper procedures. For example, are there any machines that should only be operated in pairs? What’s the correct order of operations when running this specific machine?
· Cleanup and prevention. Train your employees to clean up spills as quickly as possible and to work proactively to prevent potential injuries. Unexpected situations can arise without warning, so it pays to keep your team agile and responsive.
· Emergency response. Good safety procedures and training should prevent most accidents – but not all. That’s why it’s also important to train your employees to respond to an emergency in progress. What are their most important priorities? What can they do to prevent further injuries?
Create a Culture of Safety Consciousness
Your company culture also matters. If you don’t care about safety, or if it’s simply not a priority, your employees are going to be much less likely to follow proper safety precautions – even if you have a firm set of procedures and workflows in place.
Make safety one of your business’s most important core values and make sure all your top leaders respect it as a core value. It’s important to set a good example from the top down, and demonstrate to your team how important safety is to your organization.
Train and Promote Safety Conscious Leaders
In line with this, it’s important to train and promote leaders in your organization who are safety conscious. Before promoting anyone to a supervisory or managerial position, make sure they fully understand all your business’s safety procedures – and that they take them seriously. Leaders who follow the proper safety standards are much more likely to have employees under them doing the same.
Establish a Zero-Tolerance Policy
For certain safety violations, it’s important to establish a zero-tolerance policy. If you catch an employee without a helmet when they should have one, send them home for the day or take some other serious disciplinary action.
If you catch an employee violating an important procedure related to a dangerous machine, consider firing them on the spot.
While drastic actions like these may seem harsh at first, they set a standard for everyone else in the organization; you’ll make it clear that these safety rules need to be followed 100 percent of the time, with no exceptions.
Create an Atmosphere of Transparency and Openness
It’s also important to create an atmosphere of transparency and openness within your organization. Your employees should feel comfortable voicing their concerns, reporting on mistakes, and talking to their supervisors about work. If anyone, at any level, notices a safety violation, they should take the initiative to report it.
Address Issues as Quickly as Possible
Finally, work to address potential safety issues as quickly as possible. If you notice a potential for a worker injury that hasn’t been addressed, devise a new rule or a new safety procedure to guard against it. If, despite your safety prioritization, someone does get hurt on the job, respond immediately by calling for help, clearing the area, and doing what you can to prevent further injuries. The faster and more thoroughly you work in these scenarios, the better.
If you follow these strategies, your manufacturing business will be far safer. But it’s also important to treat workplace safety not as a one-time installation, but as an ongoing strategy that requires your constant reevaluation and improvement.
Keep track of your workplace accidents, revisit your safety policies, and don’t be hesitant to collect and act on feedback from your employees about the safety of their environment.