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Safety in Manufacturing Environments – Proactive Approaches to Success

By Aaron Conway, Vice President, Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, Inc.Successful companies not only take note of workplace hazards, they take steps immediately to correct the hazards and comply with the OSHA regulations.

Looking ahead is vital to the success of any company.  Finding then correcting problems before they materialize keeps a company strong and viable.  Simply reacting to problems after they happen will cause a company to lose momentum and eventually fall behind the competition.
This is especially true in manufacturing where it is imperative to keep the operation running smoothly so orders are not delayed, forcing customers to look for alternatives.  There is always another company around the corner trying to replicate what you make in a more efficient manner.  The best way to fight your competition is to keep your customers happy and to never give them a reason to look for alternatives.
Some of the problems that disrupt a manufacturer’s operation are uncontrollable; however, the majority of them are foreseeable.   What separates the successful companies over the long term is the ability to look ahead and fix potential problems before they materialize.
Safety in the workplace is a ubiquitous concern that is both foreseeable and controllable.  Workplace injuries can quickly disrupt and shut down an operation. Keeping employees safe is imperative in keeping an operation running smoothly.  Because occupational hazards are always a concern, dangers must be assessed and corrected before they happen. 
The company that takes a proactive approach to safety will eventually dominate the company that simply reacts to incidents after they’ve occurred.  The company reacting to problems will face more problems that will take more time and more money to fix.  These companies will rarely find the best solutions to their problems because the immediate need to implement something often leads to bad solutions.  The race to fix something quickly often leads to poor fixes.  And we all know where poor fixes can lead.
By comparison, successful companies will proactively look for hazards – all the time.  This is best accomplished by a safety professional who walks the floor, observes the day to day operation, taking note of what people are lifting, the tools they are using, the apparel used to protect them, the guard railing in place to secure them. 
The successful companies also will talk to their employees, who are the people they need to protect.  These employees know the potential day-to-day hazards more than anyone.  The employees should be asked if there are unsafe aspects of their jobs, if there are areas that need to be secured.  The employees will draw attention to these potential hazards and will appreciate the interest in their well being.  A safety suggestion box is allows anonymous input that can be reviewed without fear of reprisal.
Successful companies will not only take note of workplace hazards, they will take steps immediately to correct the hazards and comply with the OSHA regulations around employee safety.  This proactive approach allows time to properly investigate the problems in detail and to review potential solutions.  This allows time to meet with multiple vendors to determine what solution best fits their needs and to implement these solutions before they are needed.
Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries in the manufacturing industry.  It is also one of the easiest potential hazards to foresee.  Space in a manufacturing plant is at a premium.  Once the square footage has been utilized, mezzanines and elevated platforms are built to maximize the cubic space.  This additional working area creates new dangers. 
In the never-ending search for room, it is now common to see platforms twenty, thirty, and even forty feet up in the air.  Any time platforms are built, new safety concerns arise.  Permanent fixed guard rails must be installed around the perimeter of the platform to prevent accidental falls.  Of course, there must be a way to bring product up to these platforms so there must be areas where the guardrail is removed to allow storage and retrieval of palletized goods.  These pallet drop areas are the most dangerous areas on an elevated platform.  A gate must be in place at all times to secure these areas.  A single gate barrier can be left in the open position, so pallet drop areas are best secured with a dual-gate safety system.
By taking a proactive approach to safety, your manufacturing environment will be a safer place.  Keeping a safe environment will keep your operation moving smoothly, which will keep your customers happy and away from your competition that is around the corner — hungry and waiting to eat your lunch.
Aaron Conway is Vice President of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, an innovator in the design and manufacturing of safety products for mezzanine levels in warehouses and distribution centers. Visit the Web site at