November 11, 2016

5 Steps To Building A Safety Culture In Your Manufacturing Plant

Here are five safety tips to help ensure safety is treated as responsibly as possible.
Avatar Christina Chatfield

Maintaining a safe work environment in your manufacturing plant is vital for your employees’ well-being and continued productivity. Accidents cost you money with a loss of trained workers, reduced production and increased insurance premiums. This is why safety is crucial.

Here are five steps you can take to integrate safety as a core company value.

1. Embrace a Culture of Safety

Safety really starts at the top. You can preach as much as you want to about a safe working environment, but if you do not back this up with actions, your words are meaningless. You also need to make each worker responsible for safety. Having one person acting as a safety manager is fine, but all employees must feel involved.

EHSToday states that the best way to increase safety is by leading. It is also important that all managers or supervisors are on board with the safety program. Too often, in an effort to increase production, short cuts are taken in safety. Your team leaders must understand that everyone will gain more in the long-term by avoiding accidents that increase costs and slow production.

2. Continuously Evaluate Your Plant

You know technology changes rapidly. This also means that your equipment and operating procedures are changing along with it. Even minor changes in how machinery is connected to computers can leave you with a safety issue. A loose connection could electrocute someone.

As manufacturers increasingly adapt mobile solutions to manage processes, communicate or seek approvals, be sure to explain the importance of being aware of your surroundings and to not try and multi-task while walking on the shop floor. There are simply too many potential safety issues that could wipe out any productivity enhancements from your technology investments.

You have the opportunity to observe your employees. If you notice a staff member not working safely, find out why. The answers will help you to achieve your safety goals.

3. Talk to Your Employees

You already know that you have to train your employees in safety procedures. This has never changed. What you may not be doing is talking to them. Take the time to talk to different operating groups or teams. You need to ask what can be done to improve the safety of each individual job.

The workers that are operating the equipment in your plant are the ones that are familiar with the hazards. They probably also have some good ideas on how to make improvements. You may find the shields for machinery no longer function properly and need replacement. Workstations may be arranged in ways that do not contribute to comfortable working conditions. Ergonomics is part of overall safety and a comfortable employee is more productive.

4. Use the Good and Remove the Bad

Technology has made plant safety easier and more difficult at the same time. The old method of using a hand-held radio with earmuff-style headphones was not a great method of communicating with workers, especially equipment operators. Now you can just send a text to your operator when you need him.

The problem? Texting, or reading text messages, while driving or operating anything is a bad idea. The situation becomes worse with smartphones that can play your favorite videos. You need to establish clear boundaries for your employees when it comes to cellphone use.

5. Keep Your Safety Culture Growing

It is not enough to start a safety program and turn your back on it. Unfortunately, some individuals will prefer the seemingly easier way of doing business. Once you move onto other subjects, your safety priorities get swept in a corner.

Another tip provided by EHSToday is to not hold safety meetings or safety training. Hold on — this does not mean what you may think. Eliminate the word “safety” from your meetings and training sessions. You hold production meetings and manufacturing training. Safety becomes a critical component of your daily business — not just the thought for the day.

If you cannot convince your staff of the importance of safety, offer them this example: An outbreak of E. coli at a plant in Alberta, Canada has left more than 2,000 workers without jobs. This does not even touch on the number of consumers that became ill or the other costs the manufacturing plant may face. One mistake really can shut down everything.

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