In Part 1 – How Dangerous is it to Work Near Heavy Machinery, we explored some of the dangers posed by working in environments with heavy machinery. Despite the dangers, there are some safety precautions and measures that can be taken to greatly reduce the risk of injury and even death. Here are some considerations for keeping the factory floor safer:
About 38 percent of U.S. workers sleep less than seven hours a night, according to a 2016 study from NIOSH. Several additional studies found that workers who have a sleeping disorder are more likely to be involved in a workplace safety incident. Furthermore, fatigue-related productivity losses cost nearly $2,000 per worker each year, according to estimates from a 2010 study conducted by Cupertino, CA-based Alertness Solutions. The RAND Corporation has three recommendations for decreasing the amount of fatigue. They include, 1) understand the importance of sleep and promote it, 2) create brighter workplaces with settings for naps and 3) deter lengthy use of electronic devices after work.
If you work in an industry which requires the use of mechanical handling equipment, making sure the proper use of mechanical handling equipment, the storage of materials, and the maintenance of the storage locations should be paid close attention. Sufficient safe clearances should be allowed for aisles, at loading docks, through doorways and wherever turns or passage must be made. In addition, aisles and passageways should be kept clear and in good shape, with no obstruction across or in the aisles that could create a hazard. It’s also important to avoid a stacking collapse, a common accident related to storage. So items stacked upon each other should be properly secured. The location where the materials are held must be kept clear of accumulating materials which can create hazards from tripping, fire, explosion, or pest harborage. Finally, proper signage should be used to mark clearance limits as they apply.
Safety training should be part of your program to keep workers safe. OSHA Train-the-Trainer and OSHA Safety Training courses are available for construction or general industry to U.S. workers who need specific job-related safety training.
Complacency can be the enemy of safety. Complacency occurs when you’ve been doing something one way for so long without incident that you assume there can never be an incident. A false sense of security does not bode well in any industry, but it could be most dangerous in environments with heavy equipment where things are constantly changing. In a constantly changing environment, extra vigilance is needed, but workers still become complacent. Fixing complacency takes constant vigilance. Nothing beats complacency like regular reminders. Morning meetings allow you to bring safety awareness to the forefront of everybody’s minds first thing in the morning each and every day. If the job doesn’t allow for daily meetings, at least plan for one at the beginning of each week to get people refocused on safety.
Good signs can be effective against complacency too. Even making just one person think more aware of safety measure can prevent deadly incidents.
Everybody on a site or manufacturing floor or in a warehouse should be working with safety in mind.
Keeping equipment on a maintenance schedule and adhering to the schedule is another way to keep the factory floor safe. Companies that have safeguards in place and have well documented and communicated emergency procedures will be two steps ahead if they face an unforeseen situation when they will be sorely needed in order to save lives.