Safety First: Tackling the Biggest Concerns in the Manufacturing Industry

manufacturing safety concern

According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the manufacturing industry accounted for 15% of all fatal occupational injuries in 2019, highlighting the need for stringent safety measures. As the industry evolves, it continues to face numerous safety concerns and hazards that can result in fatal injuries or illnesses.

In this article, we will discuss the biggest safety concerns in the manufacturing industry and how to prevent them from harming your business and workforce.

1. Poor Maintenance

Neglecting regular equipment checks and maintenance can result in malfunctioning equipment, which can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. In addition, poor maintenance can cause damage to the equipment, resulting in production downtime and increased costs. Maintenance personnel's lack of skills and qualifications can also contribute to safety risks.

Effective maintenance management, personnel training, and record-keeping can help prevent accidents and maintain a safe working environment. Compliance with regulatory requirements for maintenance operations is also crucial for avoiding legal and financial consequences.

2. Noncompliance with Risk Management Procedures

Risk management procedures help identify potential hazards and take necessary precautions to mitigate risks. Failure to follow these procedures can result in accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Lack of risk awareness and training, inadequate resources, and complacency are common reasons for non-compliance with risk management procedures. Moreover, noncompliance with regulatory requirements for risk management can also result in legal and financial consequences.

Implementing effective risk management procedures, ensuring personnel training and awareness, and regular auditing and monitoring can help prevent noncompliance and maintain a safe working environment.

3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to equipment designed to protect workers from workplace hazards that can cause injury or illness ranging from minor cuts to severe accidents, which may result in long-term health effects. Employers must prioritize the use of PPE to prevent such incidents from happening by providing appropriate PPE, training employees on proper use, and enforcing policies to ensure that workers wear PPE correctly.

Regular inspections and maintenance of PPE can also help ensure that employees are properly protected. Employers must ensure that PPE is in good condition, fit for purpose, and replaced as necessary. Additionally, employers should consult with employees to identify any issues with PPE and make necessary adjustments to improve compliance.

4. Undertrained Employees

Without proper safety training, workers may not be aware of potential hazards and safety procedures leading to accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Inadequate safety training can also result in non-compliance with safety regulations and procedures as well as negatively affect employee morale and productivity.

Providing effective safety training, including hazard identification, safety procedures, and emergency response, can significantly reduce accidents in the workplace. Regular safety training and refresher courses can also ensure that employees remain aware of safety protocols and procedures.

5. Lockout/Tagout

Lockout/tagout involves disconnecting and isolating energy sources from equipment during maintenance, repair, or cleaning to prevent accidental start-up. Failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures can result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Compliance with lockout/tagout procedures is required by law and failure to comply can result in legal and financial consequences.

Providing adequate training to employees on lockout/tagout procedures, establishing clear policies and procedures, and regular auditing and monitoring can help prevent safety incidents related to energy sources in the workplace.

6. Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing workspaces to reduce worker fatigue, discomfort, and injury. Poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

In the manufacturing industry, workers are often required to perform repetitive tasks or work in awkward positions, making ergonomics a critical concern. Implementing ergonomic design principles can reduce the risk of injury and improve productivity.

7. Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is another emerging safety concern in the manufacturing industry. Workers may face threats or violence from co-workers, customers, or outside parties, which can cause physical and psychological harm. To address this issue, companies can develop policies and procedures to prevent workplace violence, train workers on how to recognize and respond to potential threats, and provide support for workers who have experienced violence.

8. Mental Health

Mental health is also an emerging safety concern in the manufacturing industry. Workers may face high levels of stress and anxiety due to job demands, shift work, or other factors. These mental health issues can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, and even suicide. Companies can address this issue by offering mental health resources and support, promoting work-life balance, and reducing job demands and stressors.

Regulations and Standards in the Manufacturing Industry

Regulations and standards play a crucial role in ensuring safety in the manufacturing industry as it provides manufacturers with clear guidelines and requirements to follow, ensuring the implementation and enforcement of safety protocols. Standards provide technical specifications, procedures, and guidelines that manufacturers can follow to enhance safety and quality. Standards also help in the selection of appropriate equipment, materials, and tools that meet safety requirements.

Manufacturers must provide training, information, and supervision to their employees to ensure their safety. By implementing safety measures and complying with regulations and standards, manufacturers can foster a safe working environment, reduce accidents, and protect their employees.

Safety Culture in the Manufacturing Industry

As technology advances and new safety concerns emerge, it is crucial for manufacturers to create a culture of safety to ensure the well-being of their workers.

An effective safety culture can be developed through ongoing safety training, regular audits, and open communication between management and workers. The management should set clear safety policies, provide adequate resources, and promote a positive safety culture throughout the organization. Workers should be encouraged to report safety concerns and given the necessary tools and resources to do so. Safety should also be integrated into the company's daily operations and performance metrics to reinforce its importance. Overall, an effective safety culture not only benefits individual workers but also affects the success and sustainability of the manufacturing industry as a whole.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.