The safety of employees is often the top priority for many service centers, and most companies doing business today. Many organizations have in place procedures and programs to ensure every employee goes home every day.
While there are many ways to ensure employee safety in manufacturing, here are 10 service center and manufacturing safety tips.
Policies, Procedures, and Preparedness
Safety policies can cover broad topics from employee responsibility to hazard assessment and corrective action. They are used as reference guidelines for employees upon hire. Policies help to show employees what is valued and expected of them and the organization.
Safety procedures cover specific activities. Some may be specific to a certain job and/or task, while others cover how to implement a policy. Safety procedures can cover, but are not limited to:
- Basic safety rules for the company
- Hazard reporting and assessment
- Steps to safely complete a task
- Protective gear/equipment
- Chemical use
- Emergency preparedness
- Equipment use/safe operation
Having policies and procedures help to ensure a company, and its employees, are prepared in the event any emergency or incident were to occur. They also help to prepare employees to prevent accidents from happening.
The next step along the line to service center safety is employee training. After you have written policies and procedures in place, you need to train employees on how to implement them.
At Metalwest, we use an advanced safety awareness training called SafeStart as part of the companywide safety program. SafeStart helps teach employees that many incidents occur because of one’s own actions. The simple techniques used in the course help employees minimize risk of an accident.
Hands-on training is essential to ensure safe equipment use and operation. While an office employee may not need much hands-on training, an employee hired to work a forklift, overhead crane, or cut-to-length line needs a more kinesthetic learning style approach.
Take Safety Seriously
It might seem like a “duh” statement to take safety seriously, but it is true. Safety is important to ensure employees go home to their families every day.
As an organization and an employee it is important to develop good work habits so every task done is done safely. At Metalwest, safety is something our company values. It is at the core of everything we do.
In our safety handbook it says:
Why take safety seriously?
Do it for your family. They expect you to come home in the same condition you left in.
Do it for yourself. Give yourself the satisfaction of a job well done.
Do it for your coworkers. If you’re injured and can’t be at work, an important part of the team is missing.
One’s Own Actions
While there are other uncontrollable factors that can result in an emergency or accident, employee error causes an even greater number of incidents.
Many accidents are caused when an employee becomes complacent with their job and assigned tasks. A person’s habitual and unintentional behavior, along with four key mental states (below), are almost always directly involved in workplace injuries.
- Rushing – when you exceed the pace at which you normally perform a task.
- Frustration – caused by personal influences, equipment problems, inadequate tools, excessive pressure, etc.
- Fatigue – too tired to do the job safely, either physically or mentally, may cause slower reaction times or may make it difficult to concentrate.
- Complacency – when you are familiar enough with the hazards and become less concerned about them you may ignore the consequences they present.
It is important to learn how to recognize each state and determine what can be done to minimize their impact.
Proper safety gear is worn to protect you from physical hazards associated with a job or task. And although sticking to procedures and best practices is the best way to avoid hazards, proper gear can minimize the effect of accidental exposure.
Protective gear for service centers may include, but are not limited to:
- Steel toed boots
- Appropriate clothing
- Supplied uniform
- Proper fitting clothing that will not get caught
- Flame-resistant clothing for jobs with exposure to open flames or welding
- Cut-resistant gloves
- Protective arm guards
- Hearing protection
- Safety eyewear
- Long hair must be pulled back
Maintaining a clean and organized work area help keep the facility free from hazards. It is the responsibility of each employee to ensure the work area is tidy.
Tasks that can assist employees in maintaining a clean work environment can be anything from emptying garbage cans on a regular basis to keeping aisles, walkways, paths, stairs, etc., clear of obstructions. It can also include keeping the floors dry, rags in appropriate receptacles, tools and equipment stored properly, and forklifts and trucks free of trash.
Good housekeeping is an important factor in helping to prevent accidents. It also shows that employees take pride in where they work.
Machine & Material Safety
Machine safety can vary depending on service center (or fabrication) capabilities.
Machine guards are designed to protect the body from pinch points, flying debris, and cutting operations. All types of tools and equipment require proper guarding. Power tools, belts, shafts, cranks, and gears must have their guards properly attached.
To help ensure employee safety from machine accidents, operators should inspect equipment and tools before beginning a new shift or job.
While machine accidents can happen they are not the only aspect of processing that can be a hazard. Material processing has its own dangers.
Metal coils can weight up to 45,000 lbs., and individual skids of sheet or plate can weigh up to 15,000 lbs. Machines are designed to safely handle these heavy loads, but employees need to be mindful of the material as it is being processed. While processing any size load, keeping it under control and persons out of the line-of-fire should be a top priority.
Steel also has very sharp edges. Exposed edges can easily cut an employee who is not wearing the appropriate protective gear or someone who has become complacent.
Transporting material can be done by forklifts, cranes, and trucks. It also includes the way the material is stored.
Forklifts should only be operated by employees who have been properly trained on safe operating procedures. Drives should be mindful of their speed, keeping loads low (no more than 6-8” off the ground) while traveling, parking vehicles with forks in lowered position, keeping eyes out for others, and not traveling with loads weighing over capacity.
Chains, slings, and straps play an integral role in everyday operation. These items may be used for lifting material, or keeping it on a truck. Careful inspection, proper use, and determining the correct device for the job will help keep employees safe from dangers associated with chains, slings, and straps.
Cranes are necessary when it comes to moving heavy material. A high percentage of hazards associated with crane-related material handling can be reduced by responsible use, inspection practices, and careful maintenance.
The stacking and storage of material can be extremely hazardous if not done properly. Material should be stored in designated areas while not obstructing visibility or access to a fire extinguisher or exit. When stacking, material should always be stacked in a uniform manner with larger, heavier bundles at the bottom. Make sure all material is stored on a solid foundation.
Visitors and Guests
Anyone who enters the warehouse must wear approved eye protection and footwear. Visitors and guests should be prepared with proper clothing. At Metalwest, we also recommend anyone entering the warehouse while machines are running should wear hearing protection.
All visitors must keep in mind that safety is our (and many other service centers’) first priority. We want our visitors and guests to be as safe as possible.
In the event that a workplace accident happens, regardless of the severity, it must be reported. The reasoning behind this is so that the cause can be addressed and corrective measures can be put in place to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Safety is incredibly important to all of us at Metalwest. Taking the above safety steps helps to minimize risk of an accident.