Safety is a complex process with countless approaches, but all of them should take advantage of a few core safety tips that can save lives and gear around the workplace. Thousands of workplace accidents occur every year. Some are minor and others are fatal, but many are preventable.
Every year, an estimated 340 million people globally experience a work-related accident. Of course, some industries are more dangerous than others. Any industry involving heavy machinery and equipment has a particularly high risk of damage to personnel and gear as well as a particularly high cost to repair or care for damage when it does occur. Luckily, these tips will help improve plant safety for humans as well as machines.
1. Perform regular maintenance
Maintenance is one of the easiest ways to improve plant safety for both employees and equipment. Many people make the mistake of only performing maintenance on equipment when it breaks. However, this approach presents a few dangers. Pushing equipment to its breaking point is not beneficial for equipment health or longevity.
Waiting until equipment is actually broken or underperforming to conduct maintenance can also lead to higher maintenance costs, since repairs of this degree tend to be more involved and more expensive (such as needing replacement parts). Conducting regular checkups on equipment can help avoid expensive maintenance and protect employees. Team members face significant danger when operating equipment that is not functioning at ideal capacity.
2. Conduct thorough and regular training
Damage to equipment as well as physical injury to employees often occurs as a result of unqualified personnel utilizing equipment they are not knowledgeable about. Training is an excellent way to mitigate this, with the added benefit of increasing the value of the plant’s workforce. While training sessions may take time away from the typical workday schedule, they have a high return on investment.
Employees who are properly trained on how to use equipment can operate more of the plant’s machinery effectively. This creates a useful list of backup personnel who can fill in for equipment experts if needed. Studies have shown that engaging in safety training can significantly impact employees’ safety-related behavior on the job, which benefits employees as well as the machinery they are utilizing.
3. Protect cables and electrical equipment
Each year, thousands of workers are injured or killed on the job due to electrical hazards. Some might assume that those working on a plant are knowledgeable about electrical equipment and thus it poses minimal risk. However, electrical accidents can happen to even the most seasoned expert, and electrical safety will help prevent damage to equipment, as well.
There are a few steps that plant safety specialists and managers can take to reduce the risk of electrical-related damage. For example, installing cable protection can fortify cables against a variety of dangers and make a significant impact on electrical safety. Cable protection is a great place to start since it is easy to implement, sometimes as simple as installing sleeves or tubing over cables.
Additionally, moisture and water management are important for proper electrical safety. Some kinds of equipment can be sensitive to humidity or moisture in the air, which can affect electrical components. This is something to be aware of and work to minimize where necessary.
4. Make cleanliness a priority
Cleanliness is more than a matter of appearances. It has a monumental impact on workplace safety and can cause serious damage to equipment. For example, falling, tripping, and slipping are among the top causes of workplace accidents (with equipment-related accidents a close second). Things like drips, spills, and even dust buildup should be addressed promptly and regularly.
Dust in particular is much more dangerous than it sounds. Debris in the air can harm the lungs and lead to illness, making air cleanliness critical to plant safety. Dust and other particle debris can also harm the performance of equipment, clogging vital components and damaging electrical parts. Consider adding cleaning procedures to regular maintenance checkups for equipment.
5. Pay special attention to amputation hazards
Fortunately, employee damage requiring or causing amputation is relatively uncommon. Additionally, biotech researchers have made great strides in prosthetic limb technology over recent years, thanks to numerous medical industry innovations. Nonetheless, OSHA statistics record over 8,000 work-related amputations annually, 44% of which are in the manufacturing sector alone. Despite the progress of technology in treating amputations, they are traumatizing for employees and can end careers or cause permanent mobility problems.
Preventing amputation-related damage around plants is a matter of combining all of the above safety tips. Equipment that is well-maintained, with adequate safety barriers in place, will pose less of a risk. Extensive training on dangerous equipment for all plant workers can also go a long way toward preventing amputations. Safety specialists can also consider having operators of dangerous equipment work with a partner or spotter to help prevent risky or improper use of equipment.
Safety for team members and machines
Decreasing the risk of damage to employees and equipment in the workplace can be a challenging, large-scale task, but having a place to start will help. Consider sending out a safety survey to employees or analyzing safety data from prior years to collect information about what areas are most in need of greater protection. Add regular equipment checkups into the maintenance rotation. Implementing even one new safety initiative at a time can go a long way toward protecting workers and the equipment they use every day.