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Top Safety Concerns in Manufacturing "On the Floor"

manufacturingsafety

The manufacturing industry has many hazards both obvious and unique to each facility. Managing an operation with a broad range of responsibilities is daunting if you aren’t well versed in what you should be paying close attention to. While each environment is different there are areas of the job that have safety managers worried across the board.

Restricted Access:

With so many people circling in and out of a large facility on a daily basis it is hard to keep track of who is in the building, what they are doing there, and if they are following the correct protocol required throughout different areas of the building. Restricting access to those who do not need to be in all areas of your facility will go a long way instantaneously in curbing workplace injury. Those who are not aware of the hazards they are walking into are more often than not ill prepare in protecting themselves or unaware in how to properly do so. If employees require training before they start their job, restrict access to all of those who do not have proper training as much as possible.

Mechanical Hazards:

Machines that have many moving parts such as gears, pulleys, sprockets, rotating shafts etc. pose an immediate threat to employees. Any machines that have sharp edges put workers in harm’s way when it comes to cuts, punctures or severe decapitation. The potential for trip and fall accidents is also present around cables and hoses. To reduce the risks always have proper machine guarding in place in addition to proper signage to alert workers of the hazard and proper procedures to be adhered to.

Chemical Exposures:

Depending on the chemical and the amount of exposure, breathing in toxic fumes can lead to many long lasting illnesses and diseases including respiratory problems, reproductive problems, physical disabilities, seizures, cancer, coma or even death. While chemical exposure limits are getting a lot of attention from OSHA and changes are being debated to the current regulations, make it a priority to make sure that you are properly protecting your employees from both known and potentially toxic fumes. In some cases just because it is compliant doesn’t mean it is enough.

PPE

61 percent of eye injuries occur in the manufacturing, trade and construction industries. Machines can throw dust, metal, concrete and other particles that injure the eyes. Machines can also produce loud noise well over the allowable threshold of 80 decibels per 8 hours of work. Having the correct PPE program in place is only half of the battle. Making sure that your workers have protective gear that properly fits them, that is in useable condition and is being worn when it should be are all common areas where lapses can occur. Make sure that top managers are setting a proper example throughout the facility so that application becomes second nature.

Ergonomics:

Ergonomics is becoming a more talked about issue as of late. While effects might not be instant, over a prolonged period of time your workers will start to feel the lasting effects. If they are performing repetitive movements or those unusual to the regular body motion, the slightest workplace improvement or engineering fix could make the world of difference. These small changes can have significant impacts on the reduction of workplace injuries, increased workplace morale and even higher workplace productivity.

Training/Closing the Skills Gap

Manufacturing is highly technical and requires understanding and proficiency in a wide variety of competencies. The current demand for highly skilled workers comes at a time when the industry is facing the retirement of a large percentage of its workforce and an incoming generation of workers who lack the skills and technical knowledge needed for U.S. manufacturing.  Make sure that your workers both new and old are all properly trained in the intricacies necessary to perform their tasks..

Some of these areas may be a quicker fix while others may require more time and outside resources. While a perfect safety culture doesn’t happen overnight you can start taking the necessary step for improvement today. One little change could make all the difference in your workplace.



 

Forklift Safety Best Practices: How Workplace Condition Affect Safety Operations

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Understanding the dynamic of your work environment is essential when applying best practice navigation and forklift safety throughout your facility.

Physical Conditions:

Consider the physical conditions of your facility

  • Are there any known and constant obstructions or uneven surfaces that should be accounted for such as large stacks of pallets, columns, storage etc.?
  • Are there any breaks in the floor or steps down to a lower level that are not clearly marked that could be missed in transit?
  • Consider the construction of your building itself are there potential floor loading limits that the use of a forklift may exceed, and are the overhead clearances such that there will be no issues with navigation and if so are they identified?

                Pedestrian Traffic:

Pedestrian traffic should be a primary concern and should always have the right of way when using forklifts around your facility.

  • Slow down, stop and sound horn at intersections, corners, and wherever your vision is obstructed to reduce the likelihood of collision.
  • Use a spotter for blind spots and Proceed cautiously through any congested areas.
  • If at all possible consider separating pedestrians from lift trucks by providing special designated pedestrian lanes or forklift lanes to avoid cross over.

                Enclosed and Hazardous Areas:

Know what type of truck you have and its designated areas for usage. OSHA has categorized forklifts into 11 specific types.

  • Know that you should not ever operate a gasoline/propane/diesel engine for long periods of time in a confined area.
  • Drive sensibly. Avoid racing the engine or idling for long periods of time to reduce the emissions of fumes from trucks.
  • Consider switching to battery-powered forklifts, if much of the work is in poorly ventilated spaces. Unconsciousness and death may result from carbon monoxide overexposure as the concentration in the bloodstream rises, make sure you are taking the proper precautions necessary to ensure proper levels of clean air flow throughout your facility when using forklifts.

In many cases forklifts are an irreplaceable necessity to get products moved, loaded, and unloaded to its destination. Make sure you are taking the time to correctly navigate and reduce the risk of injury to yourself and others who are enroute.



Why Has Lock-out/Tag-out Remained an OSHA Top 10 Violation?

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Failure to establish program(1910.147(c)(1)), Failure to develop procedures for energy control(1910.147(c)(4)(i)), Failure to conduct employee training(1910.147(c)(7)(i)), Failure to conduct periodic inspections(1910.147(c)(6)(i)), and Failure to have adequate procedures(1910.147(c)(4)(ii)). Year over year lock out tag out has remained one of the most cited violations by OSHA, so why do you continue to make the same mistakes expecting a different outcome? Perhaps the root cause of the continued noncompliance is as simple as not knowing what exactly it takes to become compliant. Let’s break it down a litte further.

When creating a compliant lock out tag out program for your facility you should pay close attention to:

  • Clearly and specifically outlining the scope, purpose, authorization, rules, and techniques to be utilized for the control of hazardous energy, and the means to enforce compliance
  • Outline proper procedures for each machine individually
  • Steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking and securing machines
  • Steps for the placement, removal and transfer of lockout devices
  • Specific requirements for testing a machine or equipment to determine and verify the effectiveness of lockout devices
  • What hardware will be provided by the employer for isolating, securing or blocking of machines or equipment from energy sources.
  • All Lockout devices and tagout devices are specified for a singular use

With such an intricate system it is easy to over look a step within the process. As a means of double checking your work, make sure that after you have created an effective plan for your facility that you seek out additional opinions from employees, an OSHA consultation, or other managers. Be sure to train your employees thoroughly on the protocol you have put into place and keep a regular routine of reviewing and updating your procedures to make sure you never fall behind with new updates to compliance regulations.

For more information on lock out tag out standards visit: http://1.usa.gov/1F3Inny



Workplace Safety News

News

A lesson in chemicals workers breathe in the workplace and their lasting effects

OSHA devotes most of its budget and attention to responding to here-and-now dangers rather than preventing the silent, slow killers that, in the end, take far more lives. Over the past four decades, the agency has written new standards with exposure limits for 16 of the most deadly workplace hazards, including lead, asbestos and arsenic. But for the tens of thousands of other dangerous substances American workers handle each day, employers are largely left to decide what exposure level is safe. As a result, many workers have been put at risk and have suffered long lasting effects from their daily tasks reaching far beyond the workplace.

OSHA cites Company over LOTO and Confined Space violations leading to long time workers death

A 48-year-old supervisor was fatally injured when he was struck by a metal door while performing maintenance at a Miamisburg company. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 10 serious violations, many involving OSHA’s confined space and lockout/tagout standards* for the control of machinery and moving parts.

OSHA continues outreach campaign to educate employers to reduce struck by vehicle incidents

In the past five years, 15 percent of all workplace fatalities investigated by the Kansas City Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration have involved vehicle accidents that struck employees in the workplace. Struck-by injuries and fatalities are caused by conventional vehicles, forklifts, semi trucks and other moving industrial equipment, such as cranes and yard trucks. OSHA is continuing its Regional Emphasis Program in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska with the goal of educating employers and workers about the hazards associated with these vehicles and preventing tragic incidents.

Lack of Qualified workers, What can be done?

It may seem hard to believe but, despite national unemployment rates that often hover near double digits, many industries are experiencing worker shortages; workers who are well-trained and qualified. Some industries report that, despite an abundant labor pool, they still have positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates to fill.