EHS Management

4 Vital Steps Manufacturers Should Follow to Achieve Workplace Safety

As a manufacturer, you play a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of your employees. You should prioritize workplace safety to prevent accidents, injuries, and illnesses among employees. A safe workplace increases employee morale and engagement, leading to improved job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.  

What does this look like in practice? Dow, a chemical manufacturing giant, created a Safety Academy to enhance the awareness of safe practices at the workplace. New employees reacted positively to the way Dow promotes safety and considered safety as an important part of their work culture.

A safe work environment leads to benefits like reduced lost work time and improved productivity and profitability. Also, a commitment to safety looks favorable to customers and stakeholders, enhancing the company’s reputation and brand image.

Workplace safety is also a regulatory requirement. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures safe working conditions in U.S. workplaces. Non-compliance may have serious consequences such as fines, lawsuits, or even loss of operating license, along with negative publicity. Always try to meet—or exceed—the minimum regulatory safety requirements. 

Four steps

These four steps will guide you in the right direction:

  1. Document and implement safety procedures and practices

You should draft a comprehensive written safety manual that outlines all safety policies and procedures for your plant. Provide training sessions for employees to ensure they understand these policies. General Electric, for example, has a clearly-written health and safety policy and implements it meticulously.  

Aside from providing safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits, develop a detailed emergency response plan that outlines procedures for responding to fires, medical emergencies, and other types of accidents. Conduct regular safety inspections and drills to identify and correct any safety hazards, and ensure that all safety equipment is in good working condition.

To alert employees of potential hazards, put up warning signs in strategic locations, clearly mark the emergency exits, and make the exits easily accessible. Emphasize workplace safety and foster a culture in which safety is a priority—you’ll create a safer and healthier work environment for all the employees. 

2. Educate workers on safe work practices

Ensure workplace safety through a multi-faceted approach: educate workers on safe work practices and provide personal protective equipment (PPE).

You can enhance your safety efforts by using technology. Offer virtual training, conduct demonstrations, and make safe work practices easily available on smart devices like smartphones and tablets. 

For instance, Caterpillar, a heavy earth moving equipment manufacturer, offers virtual and video safety training for operators of large vehicles.

Provide regular in-person training sessions that cover topics such as proper PPE use, hazard identification and reporting, and emergency response. Complement these trainings with virtual sessions, which help remote workers stay informed and provide learning flexibility. 

Ensure your workers have access to safety manuals, training videos, and any other necessary information. They can use their smart devices to make sure they are working safely and effectively, no matter where they are. Plus, you can use alerts to remind workers of safety protocols, monitor their movement patterns or their heart rate (this one is especially useful for lone workers). 

3. Invest in smart devices

To improve workplace safety, equip employees with wearable technology like smart glasses, smart pads, and smartwatches. These devices provide real-time information and alerts about potential hazards and emergencies. Keeping your workers informed empowers them to take proactive safety measures.

Smart glasses provide visual warnings, while smart watches receive instant emergency notifications. Wearable smart devices receive real-time data about potential hazards, enabling workers to respond quickly and keep themselves safe.

Encourage employees to report any deficiencies, hazards, or accidents they notice in the workplace. Smart devices make reporting incidents simple. 

Investing in modern wearable technology significantly improves workplace safety. Connected workers help make the workplace safer by responding to hazards faster.

4. Roll out a mobile app

Another way to improve workplace safety is introducing a customized mobile app that brings important data into one convenient platform. Funneling real-time data into the mobile app means workers get instant alerts about potential hazards, changing environmental conditions, and emergencies.

Training and education are essential aspects of workplace safety. A mobile app can also help with virtual training and demonstrations on safe work practices, such as the proper use of PPE.

Encouraging reporting and tracking is another crucial aspect of workplace safety, which is easier and more streamlined with a mobile app. Employees can easily report hazards and accidents through the app, and they can also monitor and promptly address incidents.

Staying safe

If you’re aiming for a healthy and successful work environment, prioritize workplace safety. Implement measures such as written policies and procedures, warning signs, wearable technology, and training, and encourage employees to report and track incidents as they occur. 

Use a mobile app to streamline these efforts and bring all necessary measures together. Prioritizing workplace safety creates a positive work culture, boosts employee morale, and drives overall productivity and success.

After an extensive career as a reliability and business improvement consultant, Eric Whitley joined L2L, where he currently serves as the Director of Smart Manufacturing. His role in this position is to help clients learn and implement L2L’s pragmatic and simple approach to corporate digital transformation.

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