Working the floor of a manufacturing operation, no matter what the size, is always a dangerous thing.
Between the chemicals, tools, materials, and even the work force, it only takes one misstep to bring it all crashing down.
Some businesses do not pay close enough attention to the needs of their workers and safety standards can easily slip without careful maintenance. These are the same businesses that chase after pennies while losing dollars, and think that speed on the assembly floor is more important than the safety of their workers. They are wrong.
Speed and efficiency cannot last if an injury shuts down production. Poorly maintained equipment and messy work spaces will gum up the works just as quick as an accident, though you might not see a complete stop, it will definitely lower performance and moral.
The best financial investment a business can make is in the workforce. Employees trained how to properly maintain and operate the machines are absolutely important. Training them to be efficient and safe is too. Regular training and open communication with your employees will help bring up safety concerns without worrying that speaking up might cost them their jobs.
Keeping the work floor clean and organized is one of the best ways to keep a shop safe and productive. Make sure that work spaces are organized, which ensures that they can be efficient, with every tool right where it is needed, and that dangerous tools wonâ€™t be out of place. Pathways to and from the work floor must also be clear of debris and blind corners, where many accidents can happen.
Safe equipment saves lives. Poorly maintained or worn out equipment doesn't work as well as newer and better designed models, that much is obvious. In just about every industry the latest assembly equipment incorporates better and better technology to optimize material costs and lower the impact on the individual operator. This lowered impact is not just in the labor sense, but in safety as well.
Very few companies can afford to buy every new model of machinery their company uses, and the additional costs of retraining and decommissioning of old equipment make it unrealistic to ask of a business. The best middle ground is active maintenance and a willingness to replace machines that have been proven to be not worth the risk to repair further. Consider having a technician trained specially by the manufacturer of your equipment and make sure their training is up to date with the company.
Following that, consider also a proper safety officer if your company doesn't have one already, and give them the authority to do something about it. Many of the companies that slip between the cracks have safety officers that are ignored more often than they are heard. Do not let it be a worthless title.
Finally, incentivize safety goals. Obviously workers don't want to get hurt, but with constant safety reminders, they might still be the best safety protection your company can buy.
Picture Source: http://www.engelbert-strauss.co.uk