Machinery offers higher production speeds with less labor. However, that doesn’t come without costs.
Machinery is a common cause of accidents in the workplace. This causes injuries, personal injury cases, and medical bills. It can drive up insurance premiums and administrative costs for manufacturers.
Yet machinery-related accidents are some of the most preventable accidents. Here are four ways to reduce machine-related accidents in the workplace.
Install and Maintain Machine Guards
Machinery guards are designed to protect the operator from the machine, no matter what type of machine they’re around.
Guards can prevent debris from flying out or sparks from reaching a person. Guards should be designed for the specific piece of equipment they’re on.
For example, a drill press guard should be mounted on a drill press with the right column diameter for the guard. It prevents debris from flying away from the drill site and hitting the person.
Yet it can be swung out of the way during tooling changes. However, you cannot allow employees to remove machine guards since this could result in them coming into contact with cutting tools or getting body parts trapped in moving machinery.
If machine guards must be removed, such as when the machine needs to be repaired, use lockout-tagout procedures to ensure that the machine is shut down and repairs are completed. Furthermore, repairs should only be done by an authorized employee.
Require Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment or PPE should be mandatory in most manufacturing plants. Require people to wear safety glasses to protect their eyes from flying debris, though wraparound goggles are better.
Give them fitted gloves to protect their hands from cuts if they work around cutting equipment or handle things with sharp edges.
Require people to wear steel toe cap shoes to protect their feet. Require people to wear shoes with slip-resistant soles. This is essential if they’re in a wet or slippery location, though it doesn’t eliminate the need to clean up spills.
Furthermore, there may be job-specific PPE people must have in addition to these standard types of personal protective equipment. This could include breathing masks for those working with chemicals or face shields for welders.
Provide Proper Training
Note that businesses have an obligation to provide not just the proper PPE but train people in how to use them correctly. That is aside from the obligation to train people in how to use plant equipment before using it.
Don’t let anyone step on the manufacturing floor without understanding the risks and how to keep themselves safe.
For example, they should know that they can’t wear jewelry or long, loose hair that could become entangled in machinery or come near equipment before knowing how to use respirators if they’re required.
Maintain Your Equipment
Plant machinery must be maintained. This doesn’t just maximize machine performance and minimize the risk of unplanned breakdowns. It is also essential to worker safety.
If you don’t service equipment regularly, broken belts or drive gears are more likely to jam. If you don’t replace and inspect filtration equipment regularly, it isn’t going to filter as well as it should. Now you’re increasing the risk of adverse exposure for employees.
Blades and bits that are wearing down won’t cut cleanly and safely through materials. It is more likely to snag on something, and that creates jams that employees are more prone to try to resolve while removing safety guards.
Accidents cost your business and your employees in a number of ways. However, there are steps you can take to keep everyone safe and save money in the process.