It might sound like a bit of a cliché, but many organizations recognize that one of their greatest assets is inside their own facility–their team.
Cliché or not, it’s true.
Your team members are the ones coming in every day to run the processing machines in your facility. They’re the ones who help ensure your products go out the door on time and at the quality level your customers expect.
Unfortunately, in 2019, the Bureau of Labor recorded 2.8-million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Of those, more than 888,000 resulted in at least one missed day at work.
The manufacturing industry accounted for 15 percent of those numbers.
According to the National Safety Council, the top three causes of workplace injuries are:
- Overexertion & bodily reaction (31%)
- Falls, slips & trips (27.5%)
- Contact with objects & equipment (25.8%)
For the most part, those types of injuries can be easily avoided by simply implementing safety measures, training, practices and guards throughout a facility.
Here are three of the most common tools that can be used to enhance an organization’s safety and keep team members safe in their facilities.
Any visitor can get a quick insight into how much an organization values safety by taking a simple look throughout their facility.
If there are pieces, parts and dirt on the floor, there’s a good chance that the organization isn’t too focused on safety. On the other hand, if you can drop your sandwich on the floor, pick it up and eat it, that organization obviously prioritizes safety.
So, if you want to help improve your organization’s safety, the first thing you can do is to take some time to clean up your facility. Make sure parts are put away securely. Task someone with cleaning the floors regularly (dirty floors can pose a big slip hazard). Rethink how you run your wiring if people are having to step on/over them all the time.
Just doing that can easily reduce the chances of injuries and enhance your organization’s safety.
Machine Safety Measures
The second thing you can do is make sure the standard safety devices are intact and functioning on your machines.
Equipment manufacturers usually include safety measures on their devices to help keep your team members safe. One very standard measure is an emergency stop function, which allows the operator to quickly stop the machine. At some facilities, when the e-stop button is pressed on one machine, it shuts down all the machines in that line for additional safety.
Another measure is guards that help ensure a worker cannot accidentally get a body part caught in a running machine. Make sure those guards are properly installed and secured whenever the machine is running. If they’re not, your organization is risking your team member’s wellbeing, as well as that of your own organization (think about how much downtime you’ll encounter if a team member is injured on the job, as well as the financial ramifications).
In addition to guards, different machines feature different safety measures. For example, there are still presses equipped with pullbacks, which is where safety straps are attached to the user’s wrists/hands/arms and then to the machine. When the press comes down, it pulls the user’s arms up, ensuring appendages are not in the press. When the team member pulls their arms down to feed the press, the press goes up. It’s an antiquated, yet simple and effective, measure, as long as the operator attaches and uses the pullbacks properly.
Now, organizations can also utilize light curtains to keep team members safe. Like the sensors on a garage door, light curtains recognize when there is an obstacle/object in the machine and shuts it down. This ensures the machine won’t run if someone is sticking their hand into it for whatever reason.
Safety goes beyond just making sure people won’t trip over objects or accidentally stick their fingers in a running machine.
As mentioned before, 31% of workplace injuries can be attributed to overexertion and bodily reactions. This includes injuries resulting from excessive physical effort, e.g., lifting, pushing, carrying, and repetitive motion.
Organizations can mitigate these types of injuries by investing in robotics and automation or upgraded ergonomic equipment. See our article on “Automating Your Industrial Processing Facility” for more insight into how robotics and automation equipment can help you move workers out of repetitive, dangerous positions and into safer, more value-added opportunities elsewhere.
Ergonomic equipment refers to machines and equipment that are designed to improve your team’s efficiency and comfort while working. You can help ensure your workers’ comfort and safety in this regard by working with OEMs to ensure the machines are set at a good working level. You can also invest in equipment like platforms and upenders that help reduce the load on employees.
You can also invest in upgrades, e.g., automatic lubrication systems, that automate certain maintenance needs so team members don’t have to get into the machines to work on them.
The list of ways to help ensure your team members’ safety goes on and on. Ultimately, it’s the organization’s own responsibility to safeguard the machines and processes in their facility. But, if you’re interested in upgrading your organization’s safety features, EnSight Solutions can help! Our team has decades of experience in the industrial processing field, and we have a sharp eye for potential hazards in facilities. Our team can analyze your machines and processes, then work directly with you to design safety solutions that meet your needs and keep your team safe without impacting efficiency and quality.
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